Tag:Los Angeles Kings
Posted on: December 21, 2011 3:45 pm
 

Kings' Mike Richards cleared after concussion

By Brian Stubits

Los Angeles Kings forward Mike Richards has been cleared to play after sustaining a concussion in a game on Dec. 1 against the Florida Panthers. Rich Hammonds at L.A. Kings Insider says it's likely Richards will be in the lineup for Thursday's game against the Anaheim Ducks.

Richards' clearance comes at just the right time as the Kings are beginning the Darryl Sutter era in earnest. The hope is the change in coaches will help spark a reeling team to perform up to expectations. Obviously getting Richards back will help as much as the coaching change.

Richards was injured on a check from Sean Bergenheim in the Kings' 2-1 win over the Panthers. The hit was reviewed by the NHL but it was deemed to be a shoulder-to-shoulder hit that had incidental contact to the head and Bergenheim was not punished.

Despite missing eight games, Richards is still second on the team in points, tied with Justin Williams at 20. Before suffering the concussion he was starting to look a little more settled and was performing at his best since the blockbuster trade over the summer sent him to L.A. from Philadelphia for a package that included Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn. In the 11 games prior to the injury he had scored nine goals.

Obviously his return is huge for the Kings. We'll have to wait and see if he can return to the level he was playing at before the injury, it would certainly be welcome by the Kings. They are that bottom of the barrel when it comes to goals per game in the NHL with just 2.12.

Plus, it's so refreshing to get some of the concussed star players off the bench and back into the games where we all enjoy seeing them.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 20, 2011 3:24 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 3:40 pm
 

Teams that are out of the playoff race right now

jacketsPucks and Numbers: a weekly statistical look at what's happening around the NHL. This week: A look at the teams that are probably already out of the playoff race.

By: Adam Gretz


We are not even half way through the NHL season, but we have reached the point where a slow start in the standings is going to be too much to overcome, and you can probably already cross a handful of teams off when it comes to the playoff race. And perhaps more than just the teams you would expect.

The NHL has already seen six head coaching changes during the regular season (and who knows how many more to come), and now that Jacques Martin and Terry Murray have been let go by Montreal and Los Angeles over the past week, all eyes have shifted to Columbus and Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel. Earlier this week general manager Scott Howson refused to blame Columbus' brutal start, which currently has the team at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, on coaching issues.

The season started with such promise for the Blue Jackets, in large part because of the big offseason additions of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski, players that filled two of Columbus' biggest areas of weakness -- A No. 1 center (Carter) and a big-time offensive defenseman (Wisniewski). Unfortunately, whatever optimism that might have been floating around the Blue Jackets fan base in the preseason was crushed almost immediately thanks to a 1-9-1 start the team hasn't been able to recover from.

The eight-game suspension to Wisniewski to start the season, as well as Carter missing extended time due to injury certainly didn't help matters, either.

Entering Tuesday's slate of games the Blue Jackets own a 9-20-4 mark, giving them a league-worst 22 points in the standings. They currently sit (again, as of Tuesday afternoon) 15 points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, which is now occupied by the San Jose Sharks.

Howson was asked about whether or not the season at this point is already a lost cause, and he refused to acknowledge that, telling Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, “I’m not going to acknowledge that, no. Strange things happen in sports. We’ve certainly dug a hole for ourselves. It's a requirement of being in pro sports to keep banging at the door, no matter what's going on. So, no, I'm not going to acknowledge that."

Strange things do happen in sports, but here's something that hasn't happened in the NHL in its current playoff format: a team overcoming a deficit the size of the one Columbus faces to make the playoffs. More on that in a minute.

Meanwhile, out in Edmonton, Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini is reportedly still of the belief that his team, which currently sits six points out of the eighth spot in the West, can still make a run at the postseason, a claim that has left even Oilers fans in disbelief.

Does either team still have much of a chance? Recent history suggests that no, they don't. I'm aware that it's not exactly an earth shattering revelation to announce a team that is 15 points out of a playoff spot at the end of December is in danger of missing the postseason, but the point here is to see how possible it is to overcome that deficit, and whether or not it's been done recently.

Some things to consider:

-- Going back to the 2000-01 season, a span of 10 full seasons, there have been 62 teams that have been more than five points out of a playoff spot on December 20 (Tuesday's date).

-- Only four of them (or a little over 6 percent) were able to overcome that deficit to qualify for the postseason: The 2010-11 Sabres (eight points), 2008-09 Blues (six points), 2007-08 Capitals (seven points) and 2007-08 Predators (nine points).

You wouldn't think that being just five points in December would be such a tall mountain to climb, but it is. And along with Columbus, that's also bad news for the Hurricanes and Islanders (both nine points out), and leaves Tampa Bay, a team that was just one game away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season, and Calgary (five points out) right on the line. The Ducks, another playoff team from a year ago and just one point ahead of Columbus, are 14 points out and should also be considered out of the playoff race at this point.

-- You might notice Nashville overcoming a nine-point deficit in 2007-08 as the largest number, and since 2000-01, it is. There have been 29 teams that have been 10 or more points out at this point in the season since then, and none of them have been able to come back and qualify for the playoffs.

Even worse, if you go all the way back to the 1993-94 season, the year the NHL scrapped the divisional playoff format (Adams, Patrick, Smythe, Norris) and went to its current Conference playoff format (1 vs. 8, etc.), there have been 41 teams 10 or more points back.

Not one of them qualified for the playoffs.

For a team like Columbus or Anaheim to overcome this it would be completely unheard of in the current playoff format.

Ninety-five points has typically been a good bet to get in the playoffs, or at the very least, still be in the playoff discussion during the final week of the season. For the teams mentioned above to reach that mark they would need to finish with the following records over the remainder of the season:

Columbus Blue Jackets -- (Need 73 points in 49 games): 34-10-5
Anaheim Ducks -- (Need 72 points in games 49 games): 33-10-6
Carolina Hurricanes -- (Need 69 points in 48 games): 32-11-5
New York Islanders -- (Need 69 points in 52 games): 30-13-9
Tampa Bay Lightning -- (Need 65 points in 50 games): 30-15-5
Edmonton Oilers -- (Need 64 points in 49 games): 29-15-6
Calgary Flames -- (Need 63 points in 49 games): 28-14-7

Yeah, that's asking a lot, even for Tampa Bay and Calgary. Obviously, no team is going to throw in the towel on a season, nor do I expect a general manager to publicly admit defeat (which explains Howson's comments), but for the fans? Well, there's always next season. And for others (mainly Columbus and Anaheim), there's always prospective No. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov to look forward to.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 12:58 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 1:16 pm
 

Kings finally name Darryl Sutter new head coach

By Brian Stubits

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.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 19, 2011 10:13 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 10:15 pm
 

Kings get OT win after questionable no-call

By Brian Stubits

The Toronto Maple Leafs need every point they can get right now. Their hot start has slowed down and now they are fighting for position at the bottom of the playoff race (I know it's still way early but points count now as much as they do in April).

So forgive the fans in Toronto if they are a bit upset at a questionable call costing them a second point in their 3-2 shootout loss to the L.A. Kings on Monday night.

In the second period of a 1-1 game, the Kings did something that's been very rare for them -- score on the power play. But what happened just before Dustin Brown's score is the controversial part.

It seems pretty clear to these eyes that the puck left the offensive zone on Drew Doughty's stick and it should have been blown dead as offsides. Instead, the Kings scored just seconds later. Obviously that goal was necessary for the game to go to overtime and was a large part of the difference between no points and two for the Kings.

Perhaps it was a friendly parting gift from the officiating crew to Kings interim coach John Stevens considering this was his last game as the bench boss in L.A. Darryl Sutter will take over the reins on Thursday.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 17, 2011 4:21 pm
Edited on: December 17, 2011 5:02 pm
 

Kings to name Sutter head coach next week

ds1By: Adam Gretz

In news that is sure to be no surprise to anybody that's been following the situation, the Los Angeles Kings are expected to introduce Darryl Sutter as their new head coach sometime next week, according to Rich Hammond of Kings Insider. Immigration issues have held up the process, and once introduced he will take over for John Stevens, who was named interim coach last week when Terry Murray was fired after the team's disappointing start.

Three head coaches in less than two weeks seems about right for the NHL's head coaching situation this season, as the league has already had six changes behind the bench, including Saturday's announcement from Montreal that resulted in the firing of Jacques Martin. Since the end of last season 12 of the NHL's 30 teams (over one third of the league) has made a head coaching change. Needless to say, it's a tough industry.

In the two games since Murray was relieved of his duties, the Kings have split a pair of decisions, dropping a 3-0 game to Boston before a third period rally in Columbus gave them a 2-1 win over the Blue Jackets.

Sutter last coached in the NHL with the Calgary Flames during the 2005-06 season, leading the team to a 46-25-11 record before losing in the first round of the playoffs. That was one season after the Flames went to the Stanley Cup Final. In his 12 seasons as an NHL coach his teams have compiled a 409-320-101 record.

More NHL Coaching Changes
Almost immediately after Murray was fired by the Kings last week Sutter's name was mentioned as a possibility, and now it's on the verge of becoming official.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: December 13, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 3:18 pm
 

Kings closing on replacing Murray with D. Sutter

By Brian Stubits

Kings coach Terry Murray became the fifth head coach to be fired this season on Monday. Los Angeles was the first team, however, not to name a permanent successor upon the firing, instead naming John Stevens as the interim bench boss.

It looks like it could be a very short stint as the head man for Stevens.

Rich Hammond, who writes for team-affiliated blog L.A. Kings Insider, reported early on Tuesday that the Kings had reached out to the Flames asking for permission to speak to Darryl Sutter.

Sutter, formerly the GM of the Flames who is without a position right now, is still under contract in Calgary. Thus, the Kings had to ask for permission first.

The story then mushroomed into reports that the Kings will hire Sutter and he'll be on the bench of Thursday's game in Columbus.

The only thing giving me pause is another blog from Hammond saying it might not happen quite that fast.

If the sides work out an agreement — Sutter would also have to reach a financial agreement with the Calgary Flames, in terms of the rest of his contract — Sutter could be announced as the Kings’ coach this week, although it’s unlikely that he would be behind the bench Thursday in Columbus.

Whether it happens in time for Thursday's road game or not, this much seems pretty evident. There is so much smoke the fire must be burning and Sutter will become the next Kings coach at some point in the very near future.

It certainly wouldn't surprise his brother Brent.

“There’s a history with him and Dean [Lombardi, the Kings GM], going back to San Jose,” Brent Sutter told the Calgary Sun. “It’s not a shock to me if it does materialize.

“To me, that’s where Darryl’s niche is.”

And I don't think that's going to win over all the fans in Los Angeles. Despite the fact that Sutter has a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on his resume as Flames coach and all in all is not a bad coach, Sutter's rep was soured by his GM duties in Calgary. Plus, his teams will play in the pretty much same defensive fashion the Kings had under Murray, just with a lot more edge.

It would come down to a matter of getting a new voice to try and get to the players. That's been the theme in all the firings this season, the coaches were being tuned out by the players, so new voices were needed (another cliché I'm growing tired of). Couldn't they just all go falsetto?

It's clear that by going from Murray to Sutter, GM Dean Lombardi really wants his team to play a defensive style. He had a coach he liked in Murray and, according to Darren Dreger, Lombardi let the team know they better get their butts in gear, because he didn't want to fire Murray, a coach he originally hired.

Lombardi expressed some of the frustration publicly too, courtesy of Frozen Royalty.

“It’s simple,” said Lombardi. “It sounds cliche, but it’s true. Ultimately, the message is that they’re accountable. Unfortunately, the coach has to pay the price. But make no mistake. They’re the ones who are accountable for this.”

Lombardi also stressed that it is not just a matter of young players like Drew Doughty or Jack Johnson not raising their level of play to expected levels. Rather, the veterans get at least as much of the blame, if not more.

“In the end, it still comes down to the player getting his focus, and being the best he can be,” Lombardi explained. “With young players today, it’s a challenge. But I don’t think it’s just the young players. I think it’s been right across the board, so I’m not just pinning [this on the younger players].”

So what's your take, Kings fans and none; you like Sutter to L.A. or no?

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 12, 2011 6:00 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 8:52 pm
 

Terry Murray replaced by John Stevens

Murray1

By: Adam Gretz

Just hours after reports initially surfaced that the Los Angeles Kings could be the next team to make a coaching change, the front office did just that on Monday evening by announcing that head coach Terry Murray has been relieved of his duties. He will be replaced on an interim basis by assistant coach John Stevens.

Murray was in his fourth year as the team's head coach and had compiled a 139-106-19 regular season record, while qualifying for the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, exiting in the first round each time.

“I don’t think words can ever describe how hard something like this is," said Kings general manager Dean Lombardi during a conference call. "You’re talking about, first off, a really good man. As far as a coach, if you look at what he’s done for us, he really stabilized this franchise, pointed it in the right direction. He taught these players a lot. When they look back, they’re going to realize they learned a lot from him. The team got younger and got better under him. He did a lot for this franchise.’’

After a blockbuster trade over the summer that saw the team acquire top-line center Mike Richards in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers, the Kings were expected to be -- and probably still should be -- one of the top contenders in the Western Conference as he joined a team that already had young Stars Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty. So far, things have not worked as planned as they have stumbled out of the starting gate with a 13-12-4 record that currently has them in fourth place in the Pacific Dividion, ahead of only the struggling Anaheim Ducks.

Making the slow start even more frustrating is the fact the Kings have received excellent goaltending from Jonathan Quick since the season started. The problem, however, has been that the offense, once you get past Kopitar and Richards, has been pretty much invisible in all situations (even strength, power play).

Replacing him on an interim basis is the 45-year-old Stevens who joined the Kings organization last season as an assistant.

He'll be taking over a team that has plenty of talent, and what should be high expectations given the talent at his disposal. Will this be the kick in the rear the Kings need to get things going back in the right direction? And, perhaps more importantly, is Stevens the right person to do that?

He does have previous head coaching experience in the NHL, running things behind the bench in Philadelphia between the 2006-07 season and 2009-10. He replaced Ken Hitchcock early in the '06-07 season and remained on the job until early in the 2009 season when he was replaced by Peter Laviolette. The Flyers then went on to win the Eastern Conference and lose in the Stanley Cup Final to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. During his stint with the Flyers the team had a record 120-109-34 under his watch.

But while he's currently behind the bench, he may not be there for long. Speculation has already started that his tenure is going to be a temporary one, and one name that's been mentioned is Darryl Sutter. Lombardi was asked specifically about Sutter and how he's spoke highly of him in the past.

“Like I said, there’s no timeline and we’re looking at all our options. Right now, I think that’s as far as I can comment.’’

This is already the fifth coaching change of the NHL season. Previously, the St. Louis Blues replaced Davis Payne with Hitchcock, while the Capitals, Hurricanes and Ducks all made changes over the past month.

More on the NHL's Coaching Carousel here

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 11:02 am
 

Report: Kings prepping to fire coach Terry Murray

By Brian Stubits

There have already been four coaches fired this season in the NHL. According to the L.A. Times a fifth could be coming this week.

The report in the Times says the Kings are preparing to fire coach Terry Murray. There is no replacement lined up, so the job would likely go to assistant John Stevens on an interim basis.

At no point were the Kings expected to be fourth in their own division -- which has been subpar as a whole -- and 12th in the Western Conference. Moreover, even with the defensive style that Murray runs, the Kings really have no business being the worst team in the league at scoring. Their 2.24 goals per game is the lowest in the NHL, even below Anaheim.

An offensive cast of Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Simon Gagne, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll and Dustin Penner supported by Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson should be scoring more. Jonathan Quick can only stop so many shots.

Here is what Brown told the Times over the weekend about the way the team has been playing of late.

"We have to be more desperate right now. We have to be more desperate the rest of the year," Brown said Saturday. "We aren't playing with enough intensity or enough desperation. We are a good team and now we are not playing like one."

That never is a ringing endorsement for a coach. Fair or not, players not playing up to their potential will always fall on the bench boss' shoulders. We've seen it a few times already this season. When a team isn't living up to its potential -- or at least the potential that everybody thinks they have -- it's going to be time for the coach to go.

Fair or not, that's the way it works in sports. It's funny to me that in most professions, if the employees aren't getting the job done, it's them who will be fired. Obviously the world of contracts and high-priced ones at that alter the dynamics, so the manager takes the fall.

Adding to the confounding nature of L.A.'s start, so far they have only played 11 road games compared to 18 at home. You wouldn't figure that bodes too well for a team that would like to catch up in the standings.

But the good news for any new coach that takes over in the case Murray is fired? Despite being 12th place in the Western Conference, the Kings are only three points behind the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes for the Pacific Division lead. That doesn't fit anybody's definition of insurmountable.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com