It's been a little more than a week in the making, but Darryl Sutter is finally the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings.
The team made the announcement on Tuesday and Sutter will officially begin the coaching on Wednesday by leading the team practice. His first game comes on Thursday when the Kings face fellow SoCal underachievers, the Anaheim Ducks and their new midseason coach Bruce Boudreau.
No timeframe of the contract was released, but Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period points out that it's like Sutter's contract mirrors Lombardi's, which means it goes through 2012-13 and has an option for the following year.
The Kings, thought by many to be a true Stanley Cup contender this season, have been just a touch underwhelming. And by a touch we mean a lot. The Kings are just 15-14-4 and have scored only 72 goals, more than only the Islanders who have three fewer goals in three fewer games. It led to the Kings firing coach Terry Murray after 3 1/2 years on the job.
Sutter was target No. 1 as he and GM Dean Lombardi go way back to when they were together with the San Jose Sharks. So an agreement was reached in short order but visa/passport issues delayed the announcement and takeover, leaving John Stevens to hold down the job on an interim basis. Under his short watch, the Kings were 2-2-0.
With Sutter coming on board, the Kings will be hoping or the Ken Hitchcock effect in St. Louis. Out of the five new coaches (Hitchcock, Boudreau, Dale Hunter in Washington, Kirk Muller in Carolina and Randy Cunneyworth in Montreal), only Hitchcock has been able to turn around his team's misfortunes.
Interestingly enough, Sutter's resume is the closest to matching Hitchcock's as far as being an NHL coach is concerned. Sutter took the Flames to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004 when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes.
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