John Stevens

Kings fire head coach John Stevens in effort to right ship

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Needing to turn their season around in a hurry, the Los Angeles Kings fired head coach John Stevens on Sunday.

Not even a convincing 4-1 victory on Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets could help Stevens and assistant head coach Don Nachbaur keep their jobs.

Stevens is being replaced by former Vancouver Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins on an interim basis. Desjardins was let go by the Canucks two seasons ago after failing to make the playoffs two years running. He most recently coached Canada’s national men’s team at last year’s Olympics in South Korea.

The Kings also hired former NHLer Marco Sturm, who most recently coached the German National Team to a silver medal at those same Olympics, knocking out Desjardins’ team in the semifinals.

“This is a critical time in our season and our results to date have fallen well below our expectations. With that in mind, this was a difficult decision but one we feel was necessary,” said general manager Rob Blake. “We have a great deal of respect and appreciation for John’s time with our organization. He was a key part of our past success, and we have tremendous gratitude for his many contributions.”

This is hardly surprising, as Stevens seat had only grown warmer as the season has progressed.

Despite Saturday’s win, the Kings are dead last in the NHL with nine points (tied with Florida but have played two more games). A six-game losing streak was only halted this past week and Stevens just couldn’t extract enough out of an aging Kings teams.

Old and slow doesn’t win the race in hockey.

Whether Desjardins can do any better with the same roster is still up for debate.

The addition of Ilya Kovalchuk has done little to help the Kings score more goals, where they sit plumb last in that category, too, with 28 in 13 games — an average of just 2.15 goals per game. Anze Kopitar is a shell of himself compared to last season. Jonathan Quick can’t stay healthy.

A tough task then for Desjardins.

MORE: Marco Sturm on NHL coaching future, growing hockey in Germany 


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Report: Tortorella to be named Canucks coach this week

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It might be the league’s worst kept secret, but it appears John Tortorella is set to become the next head coach of the Vancouver Canucks. CBC’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Hotstove last night that Tortorella would be announced sometime this week he’ll be the new Canucks coach.

Friedman also said the Canucks and GM Mike Gillis have done their due diligence in making sure he’s the right fit.

Assistant GM Laurence Gilman, who worked with Tortorella in Phoenix, was consulted as were former Rangers players Markus Naslund and Chris Higgins. The Canucks’ window for winning a Stanley Cup with this lineup is closing soon and, as Friedman notes, the feeling is that Tortorella will be the guy that will help make Vancouver’s dreams come true rather than someone like L.A. Kings assistant John Stevens.

Related: Report: Canucks offer head-coaching job to Tortorella

Canucks GM says Tortorella is a ‘very strong candidate’

Tortorella arrives in Vancouver, gets swamped by eager media

Add Jacques Martin to list of Canucks coaching candidates

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The list of candidates to be the next head coach of the Vancouver Canucks continues to grow.

Renaud Lavoie of RDS reports former Montreal Canadiens head coach Jacques Martin has interviewed for the job in Vancouver. Martin joins a list featuring John Tortorella, Kings assistant John Stevens, and up until he was hired by Edmonton, Dallas Eakins.

Martin last coached during the 2011-2012 season with the Montreal Canadiens when he was fired mid-season by then Habs GM Pierre Gauthier. Since 1995-1996, Martin has coached three teams: Montreal, Florida for three seasons, and Ottawa for eight-plus seasons.

Aside from Eakins, it appears Canucks GM Mike Gillis is gunning for someone with NHL experience to replace Alain Vigneault. Perhaps the talk of the Canucks’ Stanley Cup window closing has everything to do with that.

McKenzie: Canucks interested in Kings assistant Stevens for coaching job

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TSN’s Bob McKenzie shared, via Twitter, that one person the Vancouver Canucks are interested in to be their next head coach is current Kings assistant John Stevens. Jason Botchford of The Province says Stevens is a guy who could help out in a big way with the team’s defensemen.

Stevens is credited with helping develop Drew Doughty’s game to the level it’s at now as one of the best blue liners in the league. He’s also given credit for helping guys like Jacob Muzzin and Slava Voynov reaching new levels in their game. As Botchford notes, bringing Stevens in could provide a huge benefit for Alex Edler’s game in Vancouver.

The hang-up with desiring Stevens? The fact the Kings are still in the playoffs and could still be there deep into June. If Vancouver wants him to be their guy they’ll need to wait for the Kings to get knocked out to talk to him.

Stevens does have four seasons worth of head coaching experience after leading the Flyers from 2006-2007 through 2009-2010. He also served as the Kings’ interim head coach last year for four games after Terry Murray was fired and before Darryl Sutter took over.

These Kings have a distinctive Philly feel about them

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If you’re a Philadelphia Flyers fan, watching the Los Angeles Kings win the Stanley Cup had that distinct bittersweet taste to it.

These Kings came through with so many connections to the Flyers, fans had taken to referring to the Kings as “Flyers West” only now the Kings have the Cup and Philly is still without one since 1975. Dan Rosen of NHL.com highlights the numerous connections the Kings have to Philly and if you are a Flyers fan, you might want to look away. Check out these L.A.-Philly ties, they’re staggering.

  • Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, and Justin Williams all had significant time playing for the Flyers in their career.
  • Colin Fraser was originally drafted by Philly in 2003 but never played for the Flyers.
  • Kings assistant coach John Stevens is a former Flyers head coach.
  • Kings GM Dean Lombardi, while between GM jobs with the Sharks and Kings, was a scout for the Flyers in 2006.
  • Kings Vice President and Assistant GM Ron Hextall won the Conn Smythe Trophy with the Flyers in a losing effort during the 1987 Stanley Cup finals against Edmonton.
  • Former Kings coach Terry Murray used to play for and coach the Flyers.

At this rate they have to have a Cup parade through Philadelphia too, right?