In Los Angeles, it seems that the Kings have finally had enough — at least, on the management front.
On his way out is head coach John Stevens, who stood at the helm as the team entered what looked upsettingly (for them, at least) like a free-fall to start the 2018-19 NHL season. It took them a month to win four games — and while it took the Arizona Coyotes much longer last year, the difference was in the optics. Arizona looked like they had a fighting chance in nearly every game they played last October; this Kings lineup looked like they gave a small fraction of a shit at the very best.
The Kings weren’t left with a lot of options to choose from. As reported by The Athletic’s Lisa Dillman, it’s believed that former Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett had no interest in coming on board — and recently-dismissed Rangers bench boss Alain Vigneault didn’t want to come on board without some job security. The Kings fired head coach Darryl Sutter just one year into a three-year extension with the team, and they’re still paying him for this year; given that they’d now be paying Stevens and Sutter not to coach, the team went ahead and brought on coach number three as interim only.
That guy, of course, is none other than maligned Vancouver bench boss Willie Desjardins, who emerged from hiding to come and attempt to right the ship in Los Angeles.
Desjardins didn’t have much success in Vancouver, but won a bronze at the Olympic Games and a gold at the Spengler Cup last winter while coaching Team Canada. He’s also won a Calder Cup at the helm for the AHL’s Texas Stars, a gold and silver both for Team Canada at the U20 World Juniors, and a championship with Japan’s now-defunct Seibu Bears Tokyo back in the 90’s.
He’ll have German ex-NHLer Marco Sturm joining him, but it won’t be a fun time for anyone involved. Jonathan Quick is out long-term, and wasn’t doing well when he was healthy. That leaves a fairly green Jack Campbell and an aging Peter Budaj once again in charge of the net just two years removed from the last time they tried to save the team, only this time with a worse roster.
Maybe there’s nothing to be done.
Points this season#Avs Rantanen/MacKinnon/Landeskog: 63#LAKings entire roster: 63— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) November 3, 2018
But man — after a year without a single mid-season firing, it’s good to be back to #chaosszn.
In other fun news:
Rocco Grimaldi is gone from Colorado’s system, but he’s in our hearts forever (and apparently about to get crushed by Zdeno Chara):
5’6” vs 6’9” #nhl #preds #nashville #bruins #boston pic.twitter.com/IWsqHwY8Z4— Rocco Grimaldi (@RGrimaldi23) November 4, 2018
If you’re a big fan of goalie stories, by the way, all aboard the Antti Raanta hype train. He’s getting more and more love, and we’re here for it; while we can’t justify cheering for a conference rival, we’ll always support a good success story in net. [NHL.com]
Speaking of goalies:
I am looking forward to the @HockeyHallFame game next weekend. Team @grantfuhr let’s goooooo #nosplitshere thanks @daveartofficial and @warwickmask for the sweet mask!! One more go w/@MartinBrodeur #martyparty pic.twitter.com/of9UCtB4ku— Marty Turco (@mturco35) November 4, 2018
Hell yeah, very good.
In Avalanche news, here’s a Q and A with Nathan MacKinnon that you may have missed earlier this week. [NHL on NBC]
Finally, in more goalie news, here’s an incredible look at what Dominik Hasek did to take away space (even when we didn’t realize he was doing it). [InGoal Magazine]