Less than a week after the Los Angeles Kings fired Terry Murray, their coach for a little more than four seasons, the team announced Tuesday that Darryl Sutter was hired and will take over for interim coach John Stevens. He began his duties at practice on Wednesday, as the Kings await a news conference to introduce their new coach.
Sutter has plenty of work to do, taking over a Kings team that had high expectations at the beginning of the season but with a record of 15-14-4 has underachieved up to this point. Going into Tuesday’s action, the Kings were three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference and are sitting in fourth place in the Pacific Division. Sutter has a little bit of time to get used to his new squad since the Kings’ next game isn’t until Thursday when they host the fluttering Anaheim Ducks at home.
The Kings fired coach Terry Murray on Dec. 12 while the team was in Boston getting ready to start a four-game road trip, leaving assistant coach John Stevens in charge. In four games, Stevens – a former head coach for the Philadelphia Flyers – went 2-2 and couldn’t help the team’s scoring issue. This season, the Kings have the second-fewest goals in the NHL, three behind the New York Islanders and Los Angeles is currently on a streak of 12 consecutive games without more than two goals in regulation.
This is certainly not Sutter’s first coaching job, in fact he has a career record of 409-320-131 in the regular season and a 47-54 record in the playoffs. Los Angeles is the fourth team the 53-year-old will coach, the other three – each of which he led to a division title – are Chicago, San Jose and Calgary. This is his 13th year as a head coach and he previously had made the playoffs 10 times and even led the Calgary Flames to a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004.
Sutter is one of six brothers in the family to have played in the NHL, playing eight years all with the Chicago Blackhawks. He was the team captain for much of that stint and in 406 regular-season games Sutter had 161 goals and 279 points.
This is the second time that Sutter has been hired by general manager Dean Lombardi, as he hired Sutter to coach when Lombardi worked for the San Jose Sharks. He continued to improve the team each season but for five seasons the team was eliminated in the first or second rounds of the playoffs, leading to Sutter’s eventual firing.
The Kings hope Sutter will not suffer the same fate during his stint in Los Angeles and that he can get the team scoring. If he can do that, the Kings will be back in all the Stanley Cup conversations.
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