Since Terry Murray's firing on Monday, finding a permanent coach was on the top of GM Dean Lombardi's priority list. While John Stevens took over on an interim basis, only one name was brought to anyone's attention and that name was Darryl Sutter.
After days of speculation, Darryl Sutter has officially been signed to a multi-year contract as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Kings. Due to immigration issues, however, Sutter cannot join the team immediately and, as a result, won't be introduced as the new coach until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. Until then, John Stevens will continue serving as the interim coach for Los Angeles' remaining two games on this road trip in Detroit and Toronto before returning home.
It shouldn't really be a big surprise that Lombardi has been pursuing Sutter. After all, Sutter was Lombardi's coach for five years in San Jose where the Sharks made it past the first round twice, yet failing to advance past the second round before both men got relieved of their duties early in the 2002-03 season. This change better mean wins for the Kings otherwise both Lombardi and Sutter will be getting a major case of deja-vu.
Nonetheless, Darryl Sutter is the new man in Los Angeles becoming the 24th bench boss in franchise history. In 860 career games, Sutter has amassed a record of 409-320-101-30 to go along with a record of 47-54 in 101 career playoff games.
In his 11 years of coaching, Sutter has guided his team to the playoffs ten times, making the conference final twice and the Stanley Cup final once while (dubiously) been eliminated from the first round six times. The latter really isn't making anyone in Los Angeles head over heels for the new coach.
Sutter, however, is known for turning a subpar Calgary Flames team into a contender, which began shortly after his arrival. In 2003-04, he took a team of Jarome Iginla, Craig Conroy and a number of unproven players in front of former backup Miikka Kiprusoff and took the Flames to within one game of winning hockey's ultimate prize.
Some fans like the decision while others are skeptical, believing that hiring Sutter will just be more of the same. Whatever the case may be, we'll just to see how Darryl Sutter fares with his new team and, more importantly, how the players will react to him.
Sutter and Lombardi's time in San Jose didn't equate to much playoff success but the team did improve in each of the five seasons that Sutter was behind the bench and their work was just the beginning of the contending force that the San Jose Sharks have been for nearly a decade, regardless how they fare in the post-season.
We can look at the hiring of Darryl Sutter any way we want to do but his past speaks for itself. It's just up to the individual to take their pick as to whether they want to focus more on the regular season success or the playoff woes.
Only time will tell as to how Darryl Sutter will fare in Los Angeles. We can only hope for the best.
Photo: Courtesy of Dave Sandford/NHL via Getty Images