The Los Angeles Kings have been having a difficult time putting wins together recently. In their last 21 games, they are 8-8-5 and falling in the standings at a rapid pace. The Edmonton Oilers and Seattle Kraken have been on a roll and are on the fast track to surpass the Kings in the standings.
Do the Kings Already Have McLellan’s Replacement?
The struggles, for the most part, have been on offense as they have had issues finding the back of the net, in particular, Pierre-Luc Dubois. He has not been terrible yet has not been living up to the expectations placed on him after he was acquired from the Winnipeg Jets. Is that due to the new scenery or due to Head Coach Todd McLellan not placing him in a role to succeed?
Coach McLellan was hired by General Manager Rob Blake on April 16, 2019 after four years with the Pacific Division rival Oilers. Los Angeles have only made the playoffs two years in the five years he has been coach, and they were bounced in the first round both times. The Kings have a record of 162-127-42 for 366 points and have not finished higher than third in the division during his tenure as coach.
The regular season has not the only issue. The Kings, in their two playoff appearances, have a 5-8 record for a .385 winning percentage. They often looked mismatched and slow during those playoff appearances and that responsibility goes to coach McLellan for not properly getting the team ready to play in the most pivotal time of the year.
The Kings last win came against the Carolina Hurricanes, 5-2, but lost their previous eight and lost last night to the Dallas Stars. Two of those losses came via the shootout and two others came in overtime. Yes, the Kings still got a point, but in the Pacific Division two points are critical considering their record as of late.
McLellan signed a one-year contract extension before the start of the 2023-24 season that will be up at the conclusion of this season. The organization needs to sit down and see if he continues to be the coach after this season or if they need to move in a new direction. If Los Angeles does not win the Stanley Cup, or even make the playoffs, his job should be in jeopardy. Who could be in line for his job?
Assistant Coach Jim Hillier could be the choice behind the bench. Although his only head coaching positions were for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), the Chilliwack Chiefs of the Western Hockey League (WHL), and the Tri-City Americans, he has yet to be a Head Coach in the NHL. He has been an assistant for the New York Islanders, Detroit Red Wings, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Another guy who could be considered is Marco Sturm, Head Coach of the Kings American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Ontario Reign. A former NHL forward, he was previously Head Coach of the German National Team and was appointed that position on July 10, 2015. His only other coaching job was that of Assistant Coach with Los Angeles, which he was named to that position on November 4, 2018.
There are other qualified candidates within the organization but there are outside possibilities as well. Former coaches looking for another shot include Joel Quenneville and Gerard Gallant, but if Blake is considering them he has to do extensive research based on their past. An interesting name to consider would be that of NHL Hall of Famer, Patrick Roy, who previously coached the Colorado Avalanche of the NHL and Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
If this tail spin continues for the Los Angeles Kings, Blake may [pull the trigger sooner than later. McLellan has had many years to get this team on a lengthy playoff run and it has not happened. The expectations get lower and lower with every loss and with every week the Kings fall further in the standings. This roster is well-rounded and should be competing for a division title. Instead, they are going the opposite way fast.
(photo: lakingsinsider.com ; Zach Dooley) (photo: laxsportsnation.com; hkydude)
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