The Los Angeles Kings announced that general manager Rob Blake has relieved coach John Stevens of his duties. The Kings have made Willie Desjardins as the interim coach for the rest of the season.
“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 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.”
Despite picking up a 4-1 victory Saturday over the Columbus Blue Jackets, the victory didn’t do anything to allow Stevens to keep his job as the team remained 4-8-1 in the team’s first 13 games, giving them the worst record in league with the Florida Panthers the only other team that has nine points (although they have played two less games). Stevens, in just his second year as head coach of the team, took the team to the playoffs last year as the fourth-seed in the Pacific Division, but were swept in the first-round of the playoffs as the Vegas Golden Knights exposed their lack of speed.
Los Angeles responded by adding 35-year-old Ilya Kovalchuk through free agency this offseason and was expected to make a renewed run for a Stanley Cup title with the likes 30-somethings Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty (he’s actually just 28), Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Trevor Lewis, Nate Thompson, Dion Phaneuf and Alec Martinez. The team was expecting some of their young players to step up, but players such as Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson have struggled under Stevens’ tenure and haven’t developed into the goal scorers that everyone had hoped for. The team also has been without Quick, their star goaltender, for much of the season and there is no word on how much time he might miss with his most recent injury. Throw in the lack of development of some of their prospects and the team was heading down the wrong path with many of their veterans under contract for three of four more years.
Desjardins, who has 20+ years of coaching experience, has been acting as Team Canada’s men’ head coach, including leading the team in the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, Korea. He served as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks for three seasons between 2014 and 2017, compiling a disappointing 109-110-27 record. He also led Team Canada to gold at the Spengler Cup in December of 2017. Desjardins also served eight years as head coach in the WHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers where he won two championships in eight seasons there.
The team also released fired assistant coach Don Nachbaur from his duties, who served as the team’s assistant since last season. The team has brought in current German National Team coach and former Kings player Marco Sturm. The team did retain assistant coach Dave Lowry.
One has to wonder what Stevens chances will be to get another head coaching position. He served as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers between 2006 through 2009, reaching the Eastern Conference finals once and a second playoff appearance. He has a combined record of 171-148-43.
Helene Elliott was the first to report the coaching change.
Not suprised by the firing, but strange to see it come after a 4-1 win.
Agree. I thought they were gonna do this after the Flyers pounded them. But odd after a pretty solid win.
Lack of speed and scoring ability….. where have I heard this before….
This team is poorly constructed for today’s NHL. Plain and simple. While i love the Stevens firing (never liked him as a coach), this certainly is more on the front office than the coach. The speed, lack of scoring development, 30-something players under large contracts, etc…. this roster is poorly constructed and the game has passed this team by. They won’t be getting faster or more skilled with a different coach. And no offensive scheme will ass that sort of skill the kings are lacking. 3-4 year rebuild is underway.
Its not on the front office. As in this current one. Blake did none of this. I dont want to hear about Kovalchuk. He has been their best offensive player this season. Iafalo is another guy brought in and he has been one of their better offensive players.
Man, I just feel bad for Marco Sturm that he has to “hold on” in that clusterf#ck organization. WTF doesn’t he leave and go back to the black and gold in Championship City? After all, he spent about 15 minutes playing for the LA Queens during his playing career. Looks like the purple dorks are in shambles right now, already sacking the NEW coach?