April 10, 2017
The Kings began their offseason with a major shakeup on Monday night, firing head coach Darryl Sutter, and General Manager Dean Lombardi. Lombardi will be replaced by Rob Blake, who was serving as Assistant General Manager, and Luc Robitaille will become team President.
Under Lombardi and Sutter, the Kings had the most successful four year run in franchise history, winning Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014. However, in the last three years, the Kings have missed the playoffs twice, and won only 1 playoff game in that stretch.
Dan Beckerman, President and CEO of Kings parent company AEG, made this statement on Monday:
“This was an extremely difficult decision and was made with an enormous amount of consideration for what we have accomplished in our past. But the present and future of our organization is the highest priority,” said Beckerman. “Words cannot express our gratitude and appreciation for what Dean and Darryl have accomplished for the Kings franchise. They built this team and helped lead us to two Stanley Cup Championships and will forever be remembered as all-time greats in Kings history. But with that level of accomplishment comes high expectations and we have not met those expectations for the last three seasons. With the core players we have in place, we should be contending each year for the Stanley Cup. Our failure to meet these goals has led us to this change.”
The Kings will hold a press conference on Tuesday afternoon at Staples Center to discuss the news, which isn’t all that much of a surprise given recent speculation.
Sutter finished with the best coaching record in franchise history, 225-147-53, and the second-most games coached in L.A history. However, Sutter was criticized by many for his inability to consistently give opportunities to his younger players that needed to be developed.
Lombardi had a year left on his contract. He was the architect of two Stanley Cup Championship teams, drafting the likes of Drew Doughty, and fortifying the roster with veterans like Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Marian Gaborik. However, Lombardi’s loyalty to those veteran players created a very difficult salary cap situation for the Kings to improve their team, and their physical style took a toll on those aging veterans.
One coaching candidate the Kings may look to is John Stevens, who has been the team’s associate head coach and previously coached the Philadelphia Flyers. Ontario Reign Coach Mike Stothers could also be in the mix if the Kings intend to give more opportunity to ether younger players.
Robitaille and Blake will have to address what style the Kings will play moving forward, but will have to do so with limited salary cap flexibility to improve the roster. Leadership will also be a major question, after stripping Dustin Brown of the captaincy last season, while giving it to Anze Kopitar, who had a very poor offensive season.