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Category: Darryl Sutter

Bernie Nicholls helping Kings again ... as an unofficial coach

Bernie-nicholls_300The Kings’ lineup for Saturday’s game at Staples Center against the Colorado Avalanche will be the same as it has been recently, Coach Darryl Sutter said, which means defensemen Alec Martinez and Davis Drewiske and forward Kevin Westgarth will be scratched.

There was something else familiar about the Kings’ lineup on the ice for their morning skate Saturday at El Segundo: former Kings standout Bernie Nicholls, invited by Sutter several weeks ago to work with the team, was on the ice again to work with players. “Quite honestly, I enjoy having Bernie around,” Sutter said.

Nicholls, who accompanied the Kings on their trip to Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver last week, seems to have settled into an unofficial role as a power-play consultant and intermediary between the coach and the players. Sutter credited him with boosting the lagging power play over the eight games before Saturday’s encounter with Colorado — the Kings were six for 30 with the man advantage during that span — and said Nicholls is welcome to stay as long as he wants.

“You can’t have enough good experience or communication with these guys,” Sutter said. “I think that’s something we need. With a real young team you need more individual stuff. I believe that.”

Sutter said the power play had improved by about 2% and the team’s total of goals scored at home had increased slightly too. “Half a goal. You get another half a goal a game and maybe it’s just something that he’s talked to one kid about that can help,” Sutter said. “That’s all we’re trying to do.

“Originally he wasn’t going to come on that last trip. I said, ‘You know, you’ve got to see some of these guys on the road because they’re different home and away.’”

Sutter also said he would discuss Nicholls’ future duties next week, when the All-Star break and a scheduling quirk will give the Kings eight days between games.

“I’ll talk to him once the break starts,” Sutter said. “I get caught in the moment always so I’ve got to use the days properly to kind of reset where we’re at.”

Check back later for more coverage at


For Kings, tiebreaker is no break in 2-1 loss

Ducks give Francois Beauchemin a contract extension

Penguins rally, then beat Canadiens in a shootout, 5-4

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Bernie Nicholls outside his home in Addison, Texas. Credit: Amy Gutierrez / For The Times

Former coach Terry Murray: Kings could be team to reckon with

Former Kings Coach Terry Murray, who was dismissed and replaced by Darryl Sutter last month, granted his first post-firing interview Wednesday.

He didn’t say anything inflammatory or even remotely controversial but acknowledged his disappointment over being let go. He also acknowledged that the power play’s struggles cost the team some games — and perhaps cost him his job. Here’s a link to a transcript that appears on the Kings’ website.

Murray did an excellent job installing a defensive foundation that remains the Kings’ best asset, but he took them as far as he could take them — and that wasn’t as far as General Manager Dean Lombardi thought they could go.

The team was stale offensively and had stalled. And though it isn’t always fair, sometimes players need to hear a new voice and be challenged in different ways. Sutter is allowing players to be more aggressive and pushing a more up-tempo game, and they seem to have responded.

They’re not scoring in great bunches — and might never do that, even if Lombardi makes a big move before the Feb. 27 trade deadline — but they did earn points in each of Sutter’s first eight games behind the bench and are 6-1-3 during his tenure.

One more note on Murray, with thanks to colleague Lisa Dillman: Murray has moved out of his South Bay home but it isn't standing empty. He made it available for rent and Sutter moved in this week.


Saku Koivu's goals do the trick for Ducks

Kings turn in a five-star effort against Capitals

Best and worst of the NHL at the halfway point

— Helene Elliott

Photo: Former Kings coach Terry Murray, center, instructs his players during a game against the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 3. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

Kings look ahead: Darryl Sutter's return to Alberta

At least Kings Coach Darryl Sutter is getting this homecoming stuff out of the way.

San Jose? Done.

Chicago? Done.

Calgary? On deck.

Naturally, his return to Alberta will be getting the most attention, and rightly so. The famous Sutter family is from Viking, Alberta. His long association with the Flames ended a little more than a year ago when he stepped down as their general manager. Brent Sutter is still behind the bench as the Flames head coach.

So when the Kings play at Calgary on Saturday night, it will be brother vs. brother. Again.

The subject came up after Kings practice on Sunday during a wide-ranging talk between Sutter and myself, mostly about his homecoming week, Calgary experience and family ties.

Darryl satisfied one line of questioning about Brent, fairly quickly, about the current state of their relationship.

"I left a message for him this morning," Sutter said. "They  got their [butts] kicked in Boston and then to bounce back yesterday. That's got a lot to do with coaching. That's a good mark for him." 

Darryl has been down the brother-brother road many times. He has coached four of his siblings in the NHL, coached against brother Brian when Darryl was in Chicago and Brian was in St. Louis. 

"You just separated it," Darryl said. "It was very simple. When we were at the rink: coach, player. If there was anything in the family, you could separate it. It's easy to do. When Brent was hired in Calgary, everybody talked about it ... it wasn't like we were ... it's easy to separate it. And it's nobody's business."

That last remark was made without rancor, more matter of fact than anything else.

"We're used to it. Even when we were playing against each other, everybody always asked us about that," Sutter said of competing against his brothers. "We were so close in age, us boys, we played against each other our whole lives. It wasn't like somebody was better.

"So you did it your whole life. It was just on a different stage. That's all it was."


The Darryl Sutter era begins

Maybe a little outrage can jumpstart the Kings

Kings think outside the net to address scoring issues

-- Lisa Dillman

Photo: Kings Coach Darryl Sutter looks on from behind the bench. Credit: Gus Ruelas / Associated Press

Kings' offense fizzles again in 1-0 loss to Columbus


Until now, Darryl Sutter has been a kindly, encouraging figure behind the Kings’ bench, surprising observers who anticipated he would blister his new team at every opportunity. He might be ready to show them his angry side any moment.

Lifeless on the power play and still unable  to generate much offensively, the Kings opened the second half of their season Saturday with a 1-0 loss to the 30th-ranked Columbus Blue Jackets at Staples Center. The loss represented the first time in Sutter’s nine games as coach that the Kings did not earn a point and the first time in 10 games overall that they didn’t gain a point in the standings.

The Kings took 28 shots against Columbus goaltender Curtis Sanford but he gave them few rebounds and was in command throughout the game. They have scored two goals or fewer in regulation time in 19 of their last 21 games, a failing that continues to cost them as they jockey for playoff position.

The Kings were unable to capitalize on eight power plays that covered 13 minutes 36 seconds’ worth of power-play time, including a five-on-three edge early in the third period and a six-on-four advantage they created after Columbus was penalized for delay of game and the Kings replaced goalie Jonathan Quick with an extra skater. Columbus began the game ranked 29th in the NHL in penalty killing.

Columbus scored the only goal at 11:25 of the second period, a few seconds after the Kings had killed a penalty. David Savard, at the point, passed to Derick Brassard, whose cross-ice pass found Grant Clitsome venturing in from the point. Quick couldn’t move quickly enough to his right to stop Clitsome’s rising shot.

Check  back later for more coverage at

--Helene Elliott

Photo: Kings defenseman Jack Johnson (3) tries to keep Blue Jackets left wing R.J. Umberger from the rebound after goaltender Jonathan Quick made a save in the first period Saturday afternoon at Staples Center. Credit: Harry How / Getty Images

John Stevens Era near end, Mike Richards nearing return for Kings

Greetings from The Center of the Hockey Universe, also known as Toronto.

As always in Canadian cities, there was a huge media crowd at the Kings’ game-day skate at the Air Canada Centre on Monday, and the assembled throng got to witness John Stevens’ final morning skate as the Kings’ interim coach.

The timetable for Darryl Sutter’s succession now figures to be an announcement of his hiring on Tuesday, his first practice on Wednesday morning followed by a news conference, and his first game behind the bench on Thursday against the Ducks at Staples Center.

Stevens is 1-2 since temporarily taking over for Terry Murray, unable to halt a skid that has reached six losses in seven games. In addition, the Kings have been held to two goals or fewer in 11 straight games and are the league’s lowest-scoring team on a per-game average. Their power play is scoreless in 18 chances over the last six games.

Stevens will be part of Sutter’s staff, though it’s unclear whether Sutter will want to bring in an assistant of his own. He said he enjoyed the experience as interim coach, though it was taxing in many ways.

“I love coaching whether it’s an assistant or head position. Obviously this week has been very difficult with what’s transpired with Terry,” said Stevens, who tried to lighten the mood Sunday by taking the team to Dairy Queen after practice.

Continue reading »

Kings collapse in 8-2 loss at Detroit

Throughout their scoring struggles this season, the Kings usually had a strong defensive foundation to fall back on, one that kept them competitive.

Facing the precise, passionate Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, the Kings abandoned all the good things about their game and fell apart as completely as they have in a long time in an 8-2 loss at Joe Louis Arena. Darryl Sutter, confirmed Saturday as the Kings' coach-in-waiting by a source familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly, is facing a bigger job than he might have imagined.

Cory Emmerton had two goals and an assist, and Drew Miller scored twice as the Red Wings recorded their 10th straight home victory and overwhelmed the Kings in every area of the ice. The eight goals were the most given up by the Kings this season. They were held to two goals or fewer for the 11th straight game and have lost six of their last seven games. They are 1-2 under interim coach John Stevens, who replaced Terry Murray on Monday.

Stevens is scheduled to coach the finale of this trip, at Toronto on Monday. The plan is for Sutter's hiring to be announced Tuesday and for him to coach his first game Thursday against the Ducks at Staples Center. He agreed to a multiyear deal this week but had to tend to family matters and wait for immigration issues to be resolved before he could begin work.

Continue reading »

It's a done deal: Darryl Sutter to coach Kings

Sutter_275Darryl Sutter has agreed to become the Kings’ next coach and will take over on Tuesday, a source familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly confirmed to The Times Saturday.

Sutter signed a contract a few days ago but needed to wrap up some family matters and receive the proper immigration clearance. That’s expected to come through on Monday, and he will be introduced at a news conference on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Sutter signed a multi-year deal, though the exact duration is not known.

The Kings fired Terry Murray Monday and played the last two games under John Stevens, who will coach them Saturday against Detroit at Joe Louis Arena. Stevens is expected to remain on the Kings’ staff under Sutter. However, it’s unclear whether Sutter will bring in another assistant and whether current assistant Jamie Kompon will continue with the team.

Sutter and General Manager Dean Lombardi worked together in San Jose, where Lombardi hired Sutter to coach, and they have remained friends. Sutter was Lombardi’s first choice after Lombardi reluctantly dismissed Murray while the Kings were in the throes of a losing streak that reached five games before the team clawed out a 2-1 victory at Columbus on Thursday.

Sutter is blunt and gruff but has also earned tremendous loyalty from those who have played for him. He led the Calgary Flames to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals in 2004 but had far less success as the team’s general manager. He resigned that job nearly a year ago and has spent most of his time running the family ranch in Alberta, Canada.

He will take over a team that is solid defensively but has had difficulty scoring this season. He is known to push players hard but will forgive mistakes if players are intense and passionate, and he has little time for those who don’t give a full effort. His approach should be different from Murray’s teacher/fatherly demeanor, and it could jar the Kings enough to extract the talent Lombardi thinks they have. If not, and if the Kings continue to struggle offensively, Lombardi could be out of a job after the season.

Sutter will be the fourth coach to work under Lombardi. Marc Crawford coached the Kings for two seasons but had no patience with mistake-prone youngsters and was a poor fit. Murray installed a strong defensive foundation but couldn’t take the team to the next level. Stevens, a Murray disciple, is 1-1 and will coach two more games before handing over the reins, staying behind the bench Saturday in Detroit and Monday in Toronto.

-- Helene Elliott in Detroit

Photo: Darryl Sutter in 2005. Credit: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images

Kings beat Columbus, 2-1, end five-game losing streak

It took a veritable offensive explosion, but the Kings ended their five-game losing streak Thursday and got a win for interim Coach John Stevens when they scored twice in the third period and clawed out a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Davis Drewiske, with a point shot at 4:33 of the third period, and Dustin Brown, with the deflection of a shot by Drew Doughty at 8:12, provided enough offense for the Kings to edge the Blue Jackets, who rank 30th in the NHL.

Jeff Carter’s deflection of a bouncing puck at 16:43 of the second period had given Columbus a 1-0 lead, but Drewiske matched that at 4:33 of the third period with his first goal since Oct. 6, 2009. The Blue Jackets complained that Brown had interfered with goalie Curtis Sanford, and replays showed that Brown appeared to have elbowed the goalie with his left arm, but the goal stood.

The goal ended a scoring drought of 130 minutes and 35 seconds for the Kings, who still have not scored more than two goals in any of their last 10 games.

Goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 24 shots for the Kings, who continue this trip Saturday at Detroit and Monday at Toronto. Darryl Sutter, presumed to be their next coach, is not expected to meet them on the trip but is expected to take over next Tuesday.

The Kings are 1-1 under Stevens, who replaced Terry Murray on Monday. Stevens is expected to return to his duties as an assistant coach when Sutter takes over.

Center Mike Richards (head injury) is scheduled to join the team in Detroit, but it's unclear if he will play in either of the last two games of the trip.

Check back later for more coverage at


Kings-Blue Jackets summary

Kings' struggles continue in 3-0 loss to Bruins

Ducks defeat Phoenix Coyotes, 4-1, as Nik Hagman scores twice

-- Helene Elliott, reporting from Columbus, Ohio

Photo: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty controls the puck while being chased by Columbus forwards Derek MacKenzie, left, and Jared Boll, right, during the Kings' 2-1 victory Thursday. Credit: Russell LaBounty / U.S. Presswire

Interim Coach John Stevens tries to heal Kings, generate scoring

Interim coach John Stevens will be behind the Kings’ bench Thursday for the second straight game while General Manager Dean Lombardi finishes arrangements to hire a replacement for Terry Murray.

All indications remain that the new coach will be Darryl Sutter and that Sutter will take over next Tuesday. After facing the Blue Jackets, the Kings will play at Detroit on Saturday and at Toronto on Monday before returning home to face the Ducks next Thursday at Staples Center. Apparently, Sutter has some family and farming responsibilities to wrap up in Alberta but he should be able to sort everything out within the next few days.

Lombardi declined to elaborate Thursday while watching the Kings’ morning skate at Nationwide Arena. “I’m working through the process,” he said.

Though it’s odd to take so long before appointing the next coach — and the Kings’ 3-0 loss at Boston Tuesday was more of the same performance that undermined Murray — Lombardi said he has confidence in Stevens’ ability to run things for a while. “I’m not too worried about with Johnny having their respect,” Lombardi said.

Stevens is expected to stay on when Sutter is appointed, though it’s unclear whether Sutter will want to also choose an assistant.

In the meantime, Stevens is running practices, trying to find ways to produce goals and end the Kings’ five-game losing streak. Players, who have been addressed by Lombardi twice in the past few days, acknowledged Thursday that this hasn't been business as usual.

“It’s the first time for me. I’ve never had a coaching change in the middle of a year at any level, I don’t think. It is weird,” defenseman Jack Johnson said.

“It is what it is and you’ve got to deal with it. When the puck drops you’re still playing hockey. The game hasn’t changed. It’s kind of when we’re sitting around the room and we’re thinking about it, it’s weird.”

Johnson also said the team’s last practice was “one of the best practices we’ve ever had.” Stevens said he’s trying to deal more with emotions and the mind-set of the team than with strategy.

“When something of this magnitude happens, if you look at the last four years and where this team has come from and the success they’ve had, to go through emotionally what they have the last few days, it was just about trying to get some reps in and trying to get some energy and focus on getting things done on the ice,” Stevens said.

“Just trying to build some spirit back up after what they’ve been through emotionally in the last couple days.”

Continue reading »

'Jolly Rancher' Darryl Sutter praised by former players

Coach1The Kings’ dismissal of Terry Murray has been big news around the NHL but has stirred quite a fuss in Calgary, home of Murray’s expected successor, Darryl Sutter.

Flames players had some interesting comments about Sutter, their former coach and general manager, in the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun. The consensus: the man doesn’t sugar-coat anything and drove them hard but players appreciated his honesty.

He can't arrive soon enough for the Kings, who on Tuesday lost their fifth straight game, a 3-0 defeat at Boston. They've scored only six goals in those five losses and have been shut out three times this season.

Sutter remains the Kings’ only candidate for the coaching job but some minor details are delaying the final details of his hiring. The Kings had to get permission from the Flames to talk to him and that was granted without complication.

It’s not clear if the deal with Sutter will be final in time for him to coach the Kings in their next game, Thursday at Columbus. Assistant coach John Stevens was put in charge on an interim basis for Tuesday’s loss at Boston, in which the performance and outcome were the same as they were under Murray's guidance. The trip continues Saturday at Detroit and Monday at Toronto.


Kings fall to Bruins, 3-0, in first game since coaching change

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-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Darryl Sutter. Credit: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images


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