Coaching search begins by looking inward - LA Kings Insider

Len Redkoles/NHLI

It was clear when speaking with Vice President/General Manager Rob Blake at Tuesday’s press conference that the top priority early in his tenure would be to find the club’s next head coach.

“There are other vacancies, obviously,” he said, two days before Vegas introduced Gerard Gallant as the first coach in Golden Knights history on Thursday. “You don’t want to be left looking around and everything. I think a priority here the next few weeks is for us to get that down, and then you move on. You’ve got the draft and you’ve got expansion and all these things, but I think for us, the coach is a very important part of that.”

On Tuesday, Blake spoke about wanting to evaluate the staff in place, and that ultimately led to the dismissal of Assistant Coach Davis Payne later that day. Both Payne and Associate Head Coach John Stevens were referenced by a Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinal report as those with ties to Florida’s coaching search.

Meanwhile, Blake has prioritized a thorough evaluation of Stevens and is in the process of considering the styles and philosophies he would bring as the club’s head coach before deciding whether the search would expand to other candidates, according to a source. That effort is currently ongoing and will continue, and was also reported by Pierre LeBrun and Darren Dreger earlier Thursday.

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times also wrote about the club’s initial focus on Stevens in a story on Mike Futa’s promotion to Assistant General Manager that appeared in this morning’s newspaper.

Blake spoke on Tuesday about the team’s clear need to increase scoring, and it would be expected that the conversations with Stevens would key in on this particular topic, among many others.

“Hiring a coach and a philosophy for the coach is of upmost importance but there will be time involved,” Blake said.

Stevens, who won a pair of Stanley Cups on Darryl Sutter’s staff, was promoted from Assistant Coach to Associate Head Coach shortly after the team’s 2014 run. That season, he had drawn consideration for head coaching openings in Carolina, Pittsburgh, and possibly Vancouver, though it was a priority for Los Angeles to keep him on staff.

Stevens amassed a record of 120-109-34 as Philadelphia’s Head Coach between 2006 and 2009 and led the Flyers to the 2008 Eastern Conference Final before joining the Kings in June, 2010. He was 2-2-0 as Los Angeles’ Interim Head Coach after Terry Murray’s dismissal in December, 2011, and before Sutter’s arrival.

Available figures who coached NHL teams in 2016-17 but are currently without a job for 2016-17 are Willie Desjardins, who coached the Canucks, and Lindy Ruff, who coached the Stars. Reports have indicated Blake favors those with NHL head coaching experience.

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.