Now that da’ boom has been finally dropped on Terry Murray after the team’s disappointing overall performance through 30 games, speculation is rampant that the Kings and, more specifically, General Manager Dean Lombardi will seek the services of a Darryl.
No, not that Darryl…
Don’t worry…You’re not the Darryl either.
Yep…that’s the one…the Bird’s Nest himself…
First, let me just say that I would like to thank Terry Murray for doing a very admirable job during his three full seasons as head coach. His reserved, stoic and calming demeanor, coupled with his ability to teach sound defensive structure to a young, progressive player core should not be overlooked or ridiculed.
From what I’ve seen of him during his career here and elsewhere, Murray is as classy as they come and led the Kings to some of their best regular season point totals in franchise history. He should hold his head high as he exits knowing that he leaves the franchise ranking third in wins (139), fourth in games coached (275) and first in winning percentage (.560).
But unfortunately for Murray, he won’t complete (or “compete” any longer in) his fourth season as Kings coach because he was unable to extrapolate consistent offense…or any reliable goal production… from anyone not named Anze Kopitar or Mike Richards. And his surprising decision not to play Jonathan Quick in the midst of the goaltender’s franchise record three consecutive shutouts will be forever second guessed and could be considered the point when the team lost its early momentum and confidence.
Assistant coach John Stevens enters as Murray’s interim replacement and much like his predecessor, is cut from the same defense-first cloth. But Stevens takes over the job strictly as an interim coach. And based upon management’s initial comments, Stevens curiously won’t be given a chance to remove the interim tag and have the opportunity to secure his new position despite how well the team responds and performs under him. More on that later.
That brings us back to the speculative theories by the many regarding whom will be the Kings next permanent coach. Tony Granato has been mentioned in these circles, but at the time of this writing, there’s been no official word that the Kings have asked permission to speak to the current Pittsburgh Penguin assistant coach and former Los Angeles left wing fan favorite.
Mark Morris, current head coach of the Kings AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, has also been rumored as a possible long-term replacement. But based upon Lombardi’s first comments after Murray’s dismissal, it’s very doubtful that he will be sought for this promotion.
So when asked by LA Kings Insider Rich Hammond who is on the list of candidates to replace Murph, Lombardi replied with the following:
“I think it’s fair to say, when you’re in this situation, it’s a very short list. When you’re with your team, right in the middle of the fray, I think you have a decent idea of what your team (needs) to get jump-started. So, the list is pretty short.”
Prior to that question, Hammond asked, “Over the years, you’ve spoke very highly of Darryl Sutter. Is he someone you would reach out to?”
“…there’s no timeline and we’re looking at all our options. Right now, that as far as I could comment.”
And with that little morsel of info, Sutter’s name skyrocketed to the top of the list by the many bloggers and hockey experts around the league.
The consideration of Sutter is not surprising by any means because of Lombardi’s prior relationship with him in San Jose. Sutter was hired by Lombardi, the Sharks GM then, to replace Al Sims at the start of the 1997 season. The two remained conjoined in the shark tank until the end of the ’02-03 season when both were relived of their respective duties because of not living up to the organization’s lofty expectations.
Hmm….Sounds familiar, huh?
Which begs me to ask Lombardi the obvious question:
WHAT…ON SOMEONE’S GOD’S GREAT RINK OF ICE…ARE YOU FRIGGIN’ THINKING?!
Sutter is a defense-first minded coach, perhaps even more so than either Murray or Stevens. Take a listen here, as he’s being interviewed by Charlie Simmer, the former Kings great and current Flames color commentator:
This is the man presumably pegged by Lombardi to “jump-start” an offensively famished team such as our Kings?
You want more?
Here he is trying to explain his hideous trade deadline decisions as Calgary’s GM:
Not only is Sutter a retread of the same ol’, same ol’ already tried and failed offensive strategy of what we just experienced with the Murph, but he sounds like he could have an aneurism at any moment. And after listening to him stammer and stumble his way through that interview with Simmer, it kind of makes you already yearn for another Murray-ism. like “Good Compete”…”Shot Mentality”…”Playing Big”…etc.
Bottom line is that Sutter is not the answer for the Kings.
Let’s even forget about his terrible, destructive reign as Calgary’s GM. Let’s concentrate on Sutter the coach. He can’t provide anything different that what Murray did and what Stevens can. All Sutter is going to do is provide a different voice to deliver the same message. And you could forget about any offensive creativity coming from him. Sutter also likes to over-play his top players to the point of exhaustion and tends to solely rely on a team’s veterans to assume all the on-ice responsibilities.
How do these philosophies help get the Kings out of the sink hole they’re currently in?
They don’t…and won’t….if he’s given the chance to be our next head coach.
After taking some time today to think about all the possible directions that Lombardi and the Kings could take, how ’bout this one…:
Give Stevens a legitimate shot at the job – his performance will dictate whether or not a Murray-clone can make it work because that’s what you’re essentially doing if you go and grab Sutter and sign him to an expensive deal. And if it doesn’t work out, you saved the embarrassment of having to inevitably let go of another high-profile coach in Sutter while keeping many more dollars in AEG’s bank account. Then, you wait until the end of the season and go after Granato, who will be one of the most sought after off-season coaching commodities.
There’s also been talk that the Kings should go after current Phoenix Coyotes bench boss, Dave Tippett, a former Kings assistant coach during Andy Murray’s helm. Tippett, who’s contract expires at the end of the season, would also be an excellent future choice.
Doing this might not save the Kings season and/or Lombardi’s job. But neither will the hiring of Sutter, who will only give the Kings even more headaches and frustration.
And as a loyal Lombardi supporter since his first day, if he decides to go and grab the bird’s nest by his hair comma, I’ll be thoroughly disappointed in him. It will also prove that Deano ran to his familiar frayed comfy blanket…a la Linus…in the midst of his biggest challenge during his tenure and further illustrate that the Kings need more than just a change of direction on the bench.
Please, Dean…Please…Don’t Hurt ‘em…Or Us!