Veteran coach Ken Hitchcock has worked wonders with the St. Louis Blues. This makes Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi wonder if long-time coach Darryl Sutter could do the same for his team.
Lombardi canned his long-time friend Terry Murray as coach of the Kings and began his “search” for a replacement. John Stevens took over on an interim basis, but was not considered a strong candidate for a more permanent role.
Sutter is the odds-on favorite. The former Calgary Flames coach and general manager toiled for Lombardi in San Jose. He is an old-school, no-nonsense coach known for drawing a hard line on players.
Also, he can be sarcastic as hell.
“When it was going bad, everybody took the brunt of it. But every day wasn’t a whip and all that stuff — it wasn’t like that,” Flames captain Jarome Iginla told the Calgary Sun. “Sure, there were days he may not love you and vice-versa, but that’s the way it was. I only have good things to say of him as a coach. There were no surprises.”
Former Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle and former Colorado Avalanche coach Tony Granato, currently and Pittsburgh assist coaches, were regarded as fallback options.
“When you're in this situation,” Lombardi told the Los Angeles Times, “it is a very short list.”
So what went wrong with the Kings under Murray? This retooled team entered the season with serious Stanley Cup aspirations, but fell flat for whatever reason.
A four-game losing streak sealed Murray’s fate. LA was sinking from the Western Conference playoff picture.
"The challenge for a coach as well as players when you have expectations it's driven more to results,” Lombardi told the Times. “It's harder, at times, to look for those victories within losses. That's just the state of the franchise right now.
“You could look for more of those things three years ago, but we're trying to push to the next level…. I do think we're at the stage of the franchise where you're going to be judged on wins and losses and playoff rounds. And that's where you strive to be. It's a lot easier when there's no expectations and with every win you can get a parade. We're not there right now, so it comes down to wins and losses.”