Following a disappointing season, the Los Angeles Kings are cleaning house.
The team announced on Monday night that they have fired head coach Darryl Sutter, as well as general manager Dean Lombardi. It was also announced that Luc Robitaille was promoted to team President and will now oversee all hockey and business operations, while Rob Blake was named Vice President and General Manager and will handle all day to day hockey ops.
Sutter and Lombardi had one heck of a run together in Los Angeles, leading the Kings to a Stanley Cup title in 2011-2012 and again in 2013-2014. But the team has fallen off a bit in the last three years, missing the playoffs twice (including this season) and getting knocked out in the first round once.
The Kings will hold a press conference at STAPLES Center on Tuesday, but Dan Beckerman, President and CEO of Kings’ parent company AEG, released a statement with the news.
“This was an extremely difficult decision and was made with an enormous amount of consideration for what we have accomplished in our past. But the present and future of our organization is the highest priority,” said Beckerman. “Words cannot express our gratitude and appreciation for what Dean and Darryl have accomplished for the Kings franchise. They built this team and helped lead us to two Stanley Cup Championships and will forever be remembered as all-time greats in Kings history. But with that level of accomplishment comes high expectations and we have not met those expectations for the last three seasons. With the core players we have in place, we should be contending each year for the Stanley Cup. Our failure to meet these goals has led us to this change.”
Sutter is a good veteran coach who will likely bounce back with a new team fairly quickly if he so desires. The writing was more on the wall for Lombardi, who has struggled to assemble a deep enough roster to get Los Angeles back to contenders in the West. He has been aggressive with short-term moves — including trading for Milan Lucic a few summer ago as well as Ben Bishop and Jarome Iginla at this year’s trade deadline — that haven’t paid off with deep playoff runs.
Lombardi was also heavily criticised for his handling of Slava Voynov’s heinous domestic abuse incident in 2014-2015 when the team tried to circumvent the defenceman’s suspension from the league by letting him practice. (The Kings were later fined $100,000 for doing so.) Lombardi also caught some criticism for using Mike Richards’ arrest for drug possession as an opportunity to terminate and get out from under his lengthy contract.
But considering the amount of success that both Sutter and Lombardi saw in Los Angeles, it’s likely neither of them will be out of a job for too long.