If Murray goes, list of possible replacements for LA Kings

When a tweet appears from a Hall of Fame hockey writer saying ‘Kings may be preparing to fire Terry Murray as coach,’ you click the link.

And according to a report filed with the LA Times by Helene Elliott and Lisa Dillman here late last night, that may be the course of action in progress at the moment.

Murray’s Kings are one game above .500 and have lost four games in a row.

They’re in Boston today, preparing for tomorrow night’s game with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins. Currently, it’s not known if Murray will be behind the bench for that match-up.

If a move is made this week though, here’s a quick look at some of the names that may replace him – starting with five known commodities (NHL and AHL coaches), followed by the five leading candidates from junior hockey and wrapping up with five candidates you may hear about – but aren’t likely to get the gig.

NHL and AHL Coaches:

John Stevens – LA Kings assistant coach – he may be the short-term solution while a replacement is secured…however, he isn’t considered to be a finalist for the job…Stevens is said to coach the same (or very similar) system to Murray and his results while leading the Flyers were mixed

Randy Carlyle – former Anaheim Ducks coach – he’s available, due to recently being fired from the Kings Pacific Division rival…supposedly, his players tuned him out a long time ago and he is thought to be extremely hard on players (which may not be such a bad thing for the Kings right now)…his familiarity with the division could be a plus, but according to the Times’ article, the ‘Kings are not thought to be interested in Carlyle’

Craig MacTavish – another former NHL head coach (Edmonton), he’s now coaching Chicago’s AHL team…if there is one other team the Kings are most often linked to besides the Flyers, it’s the Oilers…so, Mac T has that going for him…he knows several of the current Kings from their days in Edmonton…also another coach thought to be extremely hard on his players and not well liked

Mark Morris – head coach for the Kings minor league affiliate in the AHL, the Manchester Monarchs – you would think if a move was going to be made to Morris it would have happened already…sure he knows many of the Kings from being heavily involved in training camps held in LA…however, Morris hasn’t had any real success in Manchester either…highly, highly doubt he’s the guy

Tony Granato – assistant coach Pittsburgh Penguins – he took over the head coaching job in Colorado at a time when he admits he wasn’t ready…he’s since spent more time learning to be a coach and has been Dan Bylsma’s right hand man in Pittsburgh the last few seasons…Granato was an intense player, who wanted to win, and could possibly instill a killer instinct in a Kings team that has looked lifeless at times…there is no word on how the Penguins would respond if asked for permission to speak with Granato

Junior Coaches:

Dale Hawerchuk – head coach Barrie Colts (OHL) – should be heavily considered among the final candidates…is a former first round pick at the NHL Draft, won the Calder Trophy as the top rookie, scored over 500 goals and 1,400 points in 1,188 regular season games in the NHL…was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001…was considered a high-character guy during his playing days…oh yeah, he played for the Flyers for two seasons (which some people will assume instantly pushes him to the top of the list)…one of his assistants in Barrie is former Kings defenseman Jay Wells

Gerard Gallant – St. John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) – while it might be more common for NHL coaches to come from the OHL or WHL, you can’t discount his credentials and Gallant should be considered a major player, like Hawerchuk…Gallant’s team won the Memorial Cup last season, making him more than worthy of being part of the conversation…he also was named the 2009-10 and 2010-11 CHL Coach of the Year…his squads have consistently been one of the top scoring teams during the regular season (which could benefit a Kings team desperate for goals)…he has prior NHL coaching experience, as both a head coach (Columbus) and assistant coach (Columbus and New York Islanders)

Lorne Molleken – head coach Saskatoon Blades (WHL) – served as an assistant under Darryl Sutter in San Jose (NHL), so there is familiarity with Kings GM Dean Lombardi…Molleken has had success recently in the WHL with the Blades, guiding them to the league’s best record last season…he also had head coach and assistant coaching roles with the Chicago Blackhawks, under Bob Pulford (Lombardi’s father-in-law)

Chris Byrne – head coach Ottawa 67′s (OHL) – the Kings have ties to the 67′s and Byrne studied under Hall of Fame coach (and former Kings forward) Brian Kilrea…he hasn’t had any major success in Ottawa yet, so he hasn’t risen to the status of ‘hot coach to watch’ on most lists…he also never played in the NHL, not that it’s a must though…according to his bio published by the 67′s, Byrne’s players ‘must be committed to skill development and conditioning to reach a higher level of performance’ and he stresses that ‘players are accountable to each other, the organization and the fans’…probably a long shot compared to the three listed above

Joel Otto – assistant coach Calgary Hitmen (WHL) – played 14 seasons in the NHL, including three with the Philadelphia Flyers…known as a great two-way center…won the Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989…would be a surprise hire at this point

Five Probably Nots:

Dave Cameron – coached Team Canada and the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors (OHL)…now an assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators

Bob Boughner – highly doubtful at this point…he had success with Windsor OHL), then went to Columbus (NHL), only to quickly returned to junior hockey…has a good thing going there, doubt he leaves again so soon

Wayne Gretzky – his name will probably be surfaced by some fans…however, according to an interview with Luc Robitaille here on MayorsManor over the summer, Gretzky is still involved legally with the Phoenix Coyotes…that situation would need to be cleared up first (and that’s probably not happening any time soon)…plus, the Great One hasn’t been out there publicly declaring that he’s in a hurry to return to coaching

Mark Hardy – Ontario Reign (ECHL) – timing is everything in life…the Kings missed out on hiring former assistant Dave Tippett a few years ago, due to bad timing…here, the timing just isn’t right…Hardy returned to hockey (in the ECHL) this season, where he’s serving as an assistant coach…he may somebody make his way back to the NHL, and there are many pulling for him, but the timing isn’t right at the moment

Pat Conacher – Regina Pats (WHL) – he played for the Kings from 1992-1996 and was thought to be a player who gave it his all every shift, every night…he’s received much praise for the work he’s doing in Regina this season too…however, he just became the head coach there this year and probably needs more seasoning before an NHL team is ready to give him a chance as a head coach…now, if it’s an assistant job, that could be a different story…he spent three years as an assistant in Phoenix

Stay tuned, the Kings coaching situation could be a fast moving story this week.  Interviews with some of the names mentioned above are linked below for your reference.

[UPDATE:  Now that Lombardi has officially released Murray from his coaching responsibilities, we have a POLL up with who you think should be the next Kings head coach - please click here to vote]

RELATED ARTICLES:

Interview with Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato

Luc Robitaille on new jobs for Blake, Gretzky and Laperriere – August 2011

Kings GM Dean Lombardi on coach Terry Murray’s performance - April 2011

Interview with 67′s coach/GM Brain Kilrea – scored the first goal in Kings history

Interview with Mark Hardy – talking his desire to coach again

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