The Hockey News To Dean Lombardi – Take Darryl Sutter Off Your List
We get that Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi felt he had to fire Terry Murray, even though his timing couldn’t have been worse. The guy was one win away from 500 in his career and who knows now whether he’ll ever get another chance to reach the milestone?
But nobody said life in the NHL was fair and that is especially true for NHL coaches. If life were fair, GMs wouldn’t have the carte blanche right to suddenly take somebody’s employment away from them when, in many cases, they are only a small part of the problem. There is a GM who assembled the team and 23 players in the room who are usually every bit as culpable as the guy behind the bench. To suggest this particular case was any different would be a distortion of the facts. As usual in these cases, Lombardi even admitted as much when he announced the change Monday.
But, as we said, we get that the Kings felt they had to fire Murray. Spending perilously close to the cap for players who should be far more productive, being in 11th place in the Western Conference and a shocking 29th in the league in goals scored, well, that’s pretty damning evidence on anyone’s employment record.
What we cannot understand is the name that is floating around as Murray’s replacement. Let’s get this straight. The Kings fired Murray ostensibly because they aren’t nearly creative enough given their personnel and can’t score goals and their answer to that problem is to possibly hire Darryl Sutter?
Apparently that’s the value of knowing the right people in the NHL, not exactly a new concept these days. When all else fails, people in management generally turn to people with whom they have a history. And Lombardi and Sutter have that, going back to their days together with the San Jose Sharks. But if you’re going to hire Sutter, what’s the point of firing Murray in the first place?
Perhaps before the Kings give Sutter his first NHL coaching job in five years, they should consider he has coached three teams during his NHL tenure for a total of nine full seasons and two partial ones. In those nine full seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, Sharks and Calgary Flames, his teams finished in the top half of the league in NHL scoring exactly once, when his Sharks finished fourth in the league in goals scored in 2001-02. In the other eight seasons, his team finished an average of 20th in offensive production. (That includes one season when the league was comprised of just 24 teams, two when it was 26th, one when it was 27 and one when it was 28.)
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