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Who’s next on the Los Angeles Kings coaching carousel?

Perhaps the Kings interim coach was prophetic when he said, “I think I’m really lucky to be here,” immediately after his hiring. He is lucky to be here for sure, but not for long.

Although the Kings have been playing better as of late, it looks like Willie D. is destined to return to the coaching scrapheap come the second week of April.

So who’s next for the LA Icemen?

From up-and-comers to coaches who have been around the circuit before, here’s a look at the field of head coaching candidates the Kings should be looking at as soon as possible.

(In alphabetical order)


Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup Champion Victory Parade

Dan Bylsma
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Dan Bylsma

NHL Coaching Record: 320-190-55
Notable Coaching Experience: Stanley Cup Champion (Penguins 2008-09),
Accolades: Jack Adams Award (2010-11)

The Case For Bylsma: Former King Dan Bylsma’s magical 18-3-4 Penguins run in 2009 resulted in a Stanley Cup. He remains one of the NHL’s winningest regular season coaches at a .615 clip, despite two seasons with dreadful Buffalo.

The Case Against Bylsma: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were disillusioned with the punitive criticism leveled at them by Bylsma. His endless meetings, long practices, and the “honeymoon is over” black cloud are also points of concern.


Stanley Cup X Hartley

Bob Hartley

Bob Hartley

NHL Coaching Record: 463-361-120
Notable Coaching Experience: Stanley Cup Champion (Avalanche 2000-01)
Accolades: Jack Adams Award (2014-15)

The Case For Hartley: Hartley’s credentials are in the upper echelon of coaching, winning at almost every level: Stanley Cup, Calder Cup, QMJHL, and the coveted Swiss National A Championship (2012). Being removed as Calgary coach fairly recently could be troubling, but that didn’t work out well for the Flames until this season. He’s passionate, in the mode of John Tortorella, and everyone can feel it.

The Case Against Hartley: Hartley is a doghouse coach, meaning everyone earns a trip there eventually. He was criticized for being too harsh and there was locker room gossip that it rubbed upcoming UFA players the wrong way in Calgary.

Sheldon Keefe

NHL Coaching Record: 0-0-0
Notable Coaching Experience: Winner AHL Calder Cup (2017-18)

The Case For Keefe: Keefe led his victorious Toronto Marlies to the Calder Cup last season and is widely regarded as the next up-and-comer. Keefe has a deep affinity for analytics which should make him a beloved candidate for Rob Blake. From JFTC’s Sarah, ”Whoever lures him away from the Maple Leafs org is going to have a great coach on their hands.”

The Case Against Keefe: No NHL coaching experience.


San Jose Sharks v Phoenix Coyotes

Todd McLellan
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Todd McLellan

NHL Coaching Record: 434-282-90

The Case For McLellan: McLellan is always good for a short-term bump as evidenced by his Sharks and Edmonton teams. In fact, he was two blown calls away from leading the Oilers to the 2016 Western Conference Finals.

The Case Against McLellan: He’s not considered a winner and has already been fired by two Pacific Division teams in the last decade. He was also at the helm of the Sharks when they famously collapsed in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs after holding a 3-0 series lead.


Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens

Kirk Muller
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Kirk Muller

NHL Coaching Record: 80-80-27

The Case For Muller: Known as a great communicator, Muller is equally adept at handling special teams play, where his teams rank high in both the power play and penalty kill.

The Case Against Muller: Oft-rumored as being on almost every short list to fill coaching vacancies, The popular sentiment is that Muller is poised to get his second stint as a head coach any second now. But it hasn’t happened. Why?


Edmonton Oilers v Winnipeg Jets

Todd Nelson
Photo by Marianne Helm/Getty Images

Todd Nelson

NHL Coaching Record: 17-25-9 (Pre-Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers)
Accolades: Calder Cup Champions (Grand Rapids 2016-17)

The Case For Nelson: Nelson possesses one of the top AHL resumes of any coach out there. He’s recognized as a coach who maximizes offensive talent in a modern-day, speed-reliant system.

The Case Against Nelson: Little NHL coaching experience and was quickly dismissed by the Edmonton front office. But, hey, who can trust the Edmonton front office anyway?

Joel Quenneville

NHL Coaching Record: 890-532-214
Notable Coaching Experience: Stanley Cup Champions (Chicago Blackhawks 2010, 2013, 2015)
Accolades: Jack Adams Award (1999-00)

The Case For Quenneville: Coach Q is the quintessential dream coach. But could Rob and Luc convince him to come?

The Case Against Quenneville: Nothing, really. But since I have to say something, old school tactics don’t work well with today’s players.


2017 Scotiabank NHL Centennial Classic - Detroit Red Wings v Toronto Maple Leafs

D.J. Smith (center behind the bench)

D.J. Smith

NHL Coaching Record: 0-0-0
Notable Coaching Experience: Maple Leafs assistant coach since 2015

The Case For Smith: In 2018, the NHLPA released a player poll where Smith received the most votes (8.3 percent of respondents) for this question: “Which current assistant coach should be the next head coach?”

The Case Against Smith: No NHL head coaching experience. Can Rob and Luc get permission to interview him?

Mike Stothers

NHL Coaching Record: 0-0-0

The Case For Stothers: Ontario Reign head coach always seemed to be rumored as “in the mix” during the last two Kings searches. He remains a favorite of nearly all whom have played for him.

The Case Against Stothers: Hiring from within didn’t work so well with the John Stevens hiring.

Marco Sturm

NHL Coaching Record: 0-0-0
Notable Coaching Experience: Head coach and manager of the German men’s national team (runner-up 2018 Winter Olympics)

The Case For Sturm: From Colin/Jewels From The Crown (November 12, 2018)—”Although not an overly experienced coach, his resume is impressive. When he took over the reins of the German men’s national team, it was noted in an article by Deutsche Welle (DW), the German players had a renewed want to play for their national team due to Sturm’s reputation as a player and his methodologies as a coach. Throughout the tournament, the German team was continually praised for its disciplined defense and ability to counter attack.

The Case Against Sturm: No NHL coaching experience. No real positives from his interim assistant coaching thus far.


2017 NHL All-Star - Media Day

Michel Therrien
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Michel Therrien

NHL Coaching Record: 406-303-105

Fired a couple of seasons ago when Marc Bergevin was firing coaches and trading Norris-winning defensemen, Therrien understands the modern system the Kings so desperately want in place. He would bring a much-needed Eastern Conference influence to the West Coast.

The Case For Therrien: Therrien has a history of winning, is great with the goaltenders, and develop young talents into NHL stars.

The Case Against Therrien: He was fired in Montreal (with a winning record at the time) and all the general manager had to offer is that “something was missing.”


Philadelphia Flyers v New York Rangers

Alain Vigneault
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Alain Vigneault

NHL Coaching Record: 648-435-133
Accolades: Jack Adams Award (2006-07). Western Conference Champions (Canucks 2010-11). Eastern Conference Champions (Rangers 2013-14).

The Case For Vigneault: Two-time Stanley Cup Final runner-up. Vigneault is a veteran coach whose best work comes with an already-seasoned roster.

The Case Against Vigneault: Two-time Stanley Cup Final runner-up. Vigneault is a veteran coach whose best work comes with an already-seasoned roster.

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