Stevens agrees to terms to become head coach - LA Kings Insider

Len Redkoles/NHLI

It was confirmed to LA Kings Insider Sunday morning that the team and John Stevens have agreed to contract terms to allow him to become the team’s 27th head coach. The team announced the news Sunday, and a press conference at Staples Center is planned for Monday afternoon.

Stevens, 50, served as an assistant coach under Terry Murray and Darryl Sutter from 2010-14 before his elevation to Associate Head Coach under Sutter shortly after the team won its second Stanley Cup in three seasons. The Campbellton, N.B. native previously coached the Philadelphia Flyers between the 2006-07 and 2009-10 seasons, and was the coach of the 2005 Calder Cup Philadelphia Phantoms team that included Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Patrick Sharp and Dennis Seidenberg, among others.

In 263 games, Stevens led the Flyers to a 120-109-34 record and an appearance in the 2008 Eastern Conference Final, where Philadelphia lost to Pittsburgh in five games.

Stevens is expected to answer questions about the make-up of his coaching staff during Monday’s press conference, though Goaltending Coach Bill Ranford confirmed via email that with Stevens in place as head coach, he will be a part of it. On April 10, the Kings parted ways with Assistant Coach Davis Payne.

On that front:

Over the last week, several of us have also heard Montgomery’s name come up several times. (Montgomery recently led Denver University to an NCAA title.) Via the Denver Post, he’s also in the process of meeting with Florida, a team with a head coach opening, though it’s not clear if the Panthers’ head coaching position is being discussed. “In life there are only so many opportunities and you have to listen,” Montgomery told Mike Chambers of the Denver Post. “But it’s going to have to take the perfect situation for me to leave Denver. There is no indication from Florida that I’m they’re No. 1 guy — or No. 2 or No. 3 guy. I’m just going to sit and talk with them.”

As for Stevens, over the better part of the last two weeks, Blake (and presumably Robitaille, who said at the April 11 press conference that “we’re going to work together” when asked whether he’d sit in on meetings during the coaching search) held comprehensive discussions with the former Associate Head Coach about his philosophies, and how he would look to implement a style of play that could boost an offense that ranked tied for 24th in the league with 2.43 goals per game last season. Though the conversations covered both broad topics and minute details, the team never said or gave any indication that the search had expanded past Stevens at any point.

Stevens, a former professional defenseman who appeared in 53 NHL games and won three Calder Cups in the AHL, has received ample credit for his work in developing the team’s defensemen and enhancing the team’s tight-checking structure, and for his role in constructing one of the league’s sturdiest penalty kills. Since Stevens’ first year serving as an assistant in Los Angeles in 2010-11, the Kings have ranked tied for sixth, second, tied for seventh, first, tied for fourth, third and sixth in goals against per game. They’ve allowed the fewest goals against in the NHL over that span, though discussions of the offense will be much more prevalent at Monday’s press conference.

“John and I had very productive dialogue this last week in relation to his head coaching philosophy and specifically how he would implement a strategy to activate our players offensively while maintaining the defensive philosophies we have come to be known for,” Blake said in a statement. “I am confident that we are both in agreement on how that can be executed. With that said, we believe John has the ideal qualities to lead our hockey club. His wide array of coaching experience, including success as an NHL head coach and his inherent knowledge of our players and those in our development system, is very appealing to us. We are confident he is the best person to lead our hockey club forward.”

At the previous press conference announcing Robitaille as Team President and Blake as Vice President and General Manager, Blake was blunt in his readings of the offensive shortcomings, saying, “We don’t score. It’s flat. It’s been that way this year. There needs to be some emphasis on how we’re going to do that. And there’s time now through this off-season to come up with those different philosophies. Whoever the head coach, when he is hired, will have a major impact on that.” In line with maintaining the defensive structure the team has been credited with, he also articulated the success Stevens, under both Darryl Sutter and Terry Murray, found in limiting the opposition, and further underscored the need to increase its offensive bent. “We know defensively our style of play, and what these players have been able to do, is successful,” he said on April 11. “We’ve seen it work over and over. What’s kept us back the last couple years has been our offense, and we need to find a style or a system or a philosophy that builds that.”

Stevens served as Interim Head Coach during the four-game gap in the 2011-12 season following Terry Murray’s dismissal and Darryl Sutter’s arrival, guiding the team to a 2-2-0 record. Previously the 25th coach in Kings history, Stevens now becomes the club’s 27th head coach.

Kings Head Coaches

1) Red Kelly: 55-75-20

2) Hal Laycoe: 5-18-1

3) Johnny Wilson: 9-34-9

4) Larry Regan: 27-47-14

5) Fred Glover: 18-42-8

6) Bob Pulford: 178-150-68

7) Ron Stewart: 31-34-15

8) Bob Berry: 107-94-39

9) Parker MacDonald: 13-24-5

10) Don Perry: 52-85-31

11) Rogie Vachon: 1-0-1

12) Roger Neilson: 8-17-3

13) Pat Quinn: 75-101-26

14) Mike Murphy: 20-37-8

15) Rogie Vachon: 0-1-0

16) Robbie Ftorek: 65-56-11

17) Tom Webster: 115-94-31

18) Barry Melrose: 79-101-29

19) Rogie Vachon: 3-2-2

20) Larry Robinson: 122-161-45

21) Andy Murray: 215-176-89

22) John Torchetti 5-7-0

23) Marc Crawford: 59-84-21

24) Terry Murray: 139-106-30

25) John Stevens: 2-2-0

26) Darryl Sutter: 225-147-53

27) John Stevens: 0-0-0

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images