Before long, the Kings will have played six games under three head coaches. Terry Murray coached last Saturday at home before he was fired Monday. Interim coach John Stevens has handled this four-game road trip and, when the Kings get home, newly hired Darryl Sutter will be behind the bench Thursday against Anaheim. It’s been an exhausting, whirlwind week, and one can only imagine how it has impacted the players. General manager Dean Lombardi met with players twice this week in an attempt to keep them updated and calm their minds, but no doubt, their phones have been buzzing regularly, with friends and family either providing or asking for information. After practice today, I asked Drew Doughty about the distraction level of this week, and he also shared his opinion on whether the coaching change could be a positive for the slumping Kings.
DOUGHTY: “I definitely think that, in a way, it’s effected some guys more than others. Me personally, it doesn’t effect me. I’m just out there to play, and playing for the team. John has been doing a great job as the coach. All that other stuff, I’m not one to read all the media. I don’t ever pay attention to that kind of thing. I just kind of find out things through the guys talking about it in the room. I think everyone is maybe a little nervous about a new coach coming in. It’s something we’re not used to, but I think it’s a good thing. I think change is what we need. Obviously what we’re doing right now isn’t working, and we can’t just assume that things are going to flip in an instant and we’re going to start winning all our games. We have to do something to change it, and hopefully with a new coach, guys kind of get that nerve-racking feeling again, where they’re playing real hard for each other.’’
Question: Sort of like hitting the reset button?
DOUGHTY: “Exactly. Once you get used to someone, you get more comfortable with them and maybe guys feel like, because they’re so comfortable with the coach, that they can get away with certain things. But now, with a new coach coming in, we have no idea what to expect. We’ll be in check, and everyone is going to play hard because they don’t know what the new coach will do.’’
On a related note, the Calgary Sun had an interesting item today about Sutter, with some quotes from recently hired St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock. Since taking over as an early season replacement, Hitchcock has changed the Blues’ fortunes dramatically. Of Sutter’s prospects for doing the same with the Kings, Hitchcock said, “I can tell you from coaching against him, his teams didn’t take many shifts off and they compete at a high level.” Hitchcock also shared some interesting thoughts about how he has changed as a coach. The story can be read by clicking here.