The NHL will hold its first All-Star Weekend since the 2011-12 season from January 23-25 at Columbus’ Nationwide Arena and the surrounding Arena District, and earlier today a Columbus Dispatch report made its rounds that noted Darryl Sutter, John Stevens and Davis Payne will form one of the team’s coaching staffs.
Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter and his staff — assistants John Stevens and Davis Payne — will coach one of the teams, a reward for winning the Stanley Cup last spring. The other staff will be determined by the highest points percentage through Saturday’s games.
As of now, that other staff will be filled by Nashville, which has a .718 points percentage. Anaheim, though, is on the Preds’ heels at .707, which means that there is a chance that the Kings’ staff will coach one team, and the Ducks’ staff will coach the other.
Fan voting has selected six players, five of which play for Chicago. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford and Zemgus Girgensons have already booked their tickets to Columbus. Per Portzline’s story, the remaining 36 All-Stars and six rookies will be announced by the NHL on Saturday. Once again, a fantasy draft will split the players onto two teams.
Darryl Sutter politely declined to discuss his All-Star Game responsibilities since, in his words, “It’s not official.”
“Basically it’s something I’ve talked to the league about off-and-on for the last three weeks, just figure out whether you should or not and what was best for the team and for the staff and for my family,” he said.
Sutter said that even after the Kings had won the Stanley Cup, the thought of coaching at an All-Star Game never crossed his mind.
“We’ve got enough going on,” he said. “That’s why it’s taken so long for me to make the decision, because quite honest, my staff’s important and my family’s important.”
Head Equipment Manager Darren Granger, who won a gold medal with Team Canada at last year’s Winter Olympics, and Assistant Equipment Manager Dana Bryson are scheduled to work the weekend.
Not scheduled at this point to work that weekend is Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty, though there’s a decent chance that could change. With four goals, 24 points and an average of 29:11 of ice per game that ranks second in the league, he’d be the Kings’ safest bet to earn an invitation.
Would it be strange playing for (or against) Sutter in an All-Star game?
“I don’t know. I’d be fine with it,” Doughty said. “When coaches are at those things, they’re not themselves. They’re there to have fun just like everybody else. I don’t know. I think it’d be pretty normal. It’d be kind of fun to see Darryl let loose and not have to be serious for a little bit. Hopefully he makes it, hopefully I make it.”
As a reporter pointed out, what better place than for Doughty to practice the shootout chance that he has lobbied for?
“Yeah, I might get my shot soon. I’m looking forward to that. I’ve got to kind of visualize what I’m going to do.”
Drew Doughty, on which teammates he would like to see at the All-Star Game:
It’s tough. I think there are a lot of guys in this room that are very deserving. I think a lot of people would probably think Kopi, Quickie, a guy like Carts or Gabby or something like that would be kind of the frontrunners to go. I think they’re all deserving, but obviously we all can’t go. I think the guys, they’re just happy. Whoever makes it off our team, we’re happy for them. We’re not too worried about it otherwise. We’re just going to come back after the All-Star break and be a good team from there.
Doughty, on the possibility of being paired with Jake Muzzin at the All-Star Game:
That’d be cool. I don’t know if that will happen, but that’d be good. I think me and Muzz have had our ups and downs this season. I feel like we’ve been playing well together, maybe not getting the bounces last game. I think one day, that might happen. We’re going to keep working on getting better together and hopefully be a top pair in the league again.
As it would, Twitter weighed in on the prospect of Sutter coaching an All-Star team:
— almsmcq (@Almsmcq) January 7, 2015
— lisa dillman (@reallisa) January 7, 2015
A Kickstarter for @NHLonNBCSports to have a dedicated Head Coach Camera at the 2015 NHL All-Star Game.
— The Royal Half (@theroyalhalf) January 7, 2015