There is no shortage of coaches on the ice for the Kings in practice these days. Beyond head coach Darryl Sutter and assistants John Stevens and Jamie Kompon, there’s one of two goalie coaches, Bill Ranford or Kim Dillabaugh, plus non-coach/non-consultant, friend-of-Sutter Bernie Nicholls. On occasion, strength and conditioning coach Ryan van Asten even goes out for a twirl. Nicholls has been with the Kings for almost a full month in his loosely defined role, in which Nicholls helps out with on-ice drills and serves as something of an off-ice mentor to players. Sutter said Nicholls’ involvement with the Kings remains open-ended.
SUTTER: “Yeah. I think it’s good to have him here. We really haven’t went much past that. When a coaching staff changes in the middle of the year, there’s lots of work to do, right? This being a young group, the more hands on deck you can have, the better you are.’’
A more direct change made by Sutter has been his desire to have a goalie coach around the team on a full-time basis. Ranford has been the goalie coach, and Dillabaugh is part of the player-development staff, but under Terry Murray, there were times when there wasn’t a goalie coach present. Ranford frequently travels to see goalies in other parts of the continent and also works near his home in British Columbia. Sutter has sought to have one of the coaches with the team at all times.
SUTTER: “I think it’s important when you have two young goalies. You have two young guys here, and then the two kids also in (Manchester), and the kid in Ontario and the Gibson boy [Chris Gibson]. So, when you have a bunch of kids, I don’t think you can have a part-time goalie coach. It’s like having a part-time pitching coach. I don’t think that can happen. Because, at the end of the day, most staffs, including this one, don’t know a lot about goaltending. It’s the same old line, it’s big saves and bad goals. That’s all we know about. The technical part of it, you need help with it. I’ve always felt strong about it, not only because I’ve had great goalies but I’ve had great goalie coaches: (Vladimir) Tretiak, Warren Strelow. Those guys are way better coaches than I am.’’