The Los Angeles Kings will be guided by the same coaching staff in 2014-15.
It was reported earlier on Wednesday that John Stevens, who had drawn interest from Pittsburgh, Carolina, and likely Vancouver, was not given permission to interview for vacant head coaching positions. Then came the inevitable – he was promoted to Associate Head Coach, while Assistant Coach Davis Payne and Goaltending Coach Bill Ranford were re-signed to new contracts.
It’s a similar move to when teams with general manager openings began kicking the tires on Director of Amateur Scouting Michael Futa, who was then promoted to the Vice President of Hockey Operations and Director of Player Personnel.
That Stevens – and Payne and Ranford – will return to coach the Kings next season is excellent news, as the interest shown by other teams in Stevens very well could have resulted in an offer for a head coaching position. Darryl Sutter has previously stated that he likes having former head coaches as his assistants, and he has also noted in 2013 that he sees Stevens as “a head coach with us.”
Many teams have an Associate Head Coach or an Associate Coach, which is basically an elevated number two position in the coaching staff. Across the Pacific Division, Calgary (Jacques Cloutier), Edmonton (Keith Acton), Phoenix (Jim Playfair) and San Jose (Larry Robinson) have associate coaches.
Stevens, 48, has helped guide the Kings to two Stanley Cups in his two years with the club. In addition to having served as Philadelphia’s head coach from 2006-09, he was also Los Angeles’ interim head coach in the four games between the tenures of Terry Murray and Darryl Sutter and has been among those responsible for the development of the team’s defensive success. Jonathan Quick will claim the Jennings Trophy on behalf of a team that allowed the fewest goals in the NHL this season.
“Our coaching staff has been an integral part of the success of our team the last three years,” President / General Manager Dean Lombardi said in a statement. “We are extremely pleased that they will remain part of our team and continue together as we strive for excellence.”