Kings to interview top candidate for Machester head coach

Lombardi Blake Kings MayorsManorSo the Kings won the Stanley Cup, and everybody went on vacation, right?

Not so fast.

As if the organization doesn’t have enough on its plate of late – like getting new long-term contracts done for Matt Greene and Marian Gaborik – there is at least one other pressing item heating up on what should be an already busy weekend.

GM Dean Lombardi and his top lieutenants have assembled in Philadelphia today for their pre-draft work. Although their final player rankings were due to the NHL back around May 1, the team’s army of scouts have continued to pour over tape and interviewed nearly 100 players since then. We’ll have a full look at what the L.A. brain trust is up to later in the week (including live coverage from the NHL Draft floor provided by MayorsManor correspondent Andy Tonge).

Yet, there is another major item on the to-do list this weekend in Philadelphia – interview a head coach for the opening in Manchester. As you may recall, Mark Morris, who lead the Monarchs for the past eight seasons did not have his contract renewed after the team lost in the first round of the playoffs for the fourth straight season.

On that front, MayorsManor has learned the Kings will be meeting with Mike Stothers this weekend to discuss the Manchester position, and he is believed to be the lead candidate. Rob Blake, Kings Assistant GM (and newest member of the Hockey Hall of Fame), is leading the search, serving as the point person on finding a replacement for Morris.

Contrary to rumors floating around, former Kings forward and Penguins assistant coach Tony Granato is not on the short list, as he wants to remain in the NHL. Further, we’ve also confirmed two other names who will not be getting interviews – Jason Christie and Mark Hardy, coaches of the Kings’ ECHL affiliate Ontario Reign.

Now, who is Stothers, you ask?

For starters, his ties to people within the Kings organization are strong – and yes, he’s also a former Flyer, let’s get that out of the way right up front.

Stothers was drafted 21st overall by Philadelphia in 1980. However, he only played 30 games in the NHL. After coming out of the Quebec junior league, the former defenseman spent over 600 games as a player in the AHL, most of that with the Hershey Bears – the Flyers AHL affiliate at the time. He also won a championship with the Maine Mariners very early in his career.

After hanging up his skates in 1992, Stothers transitioned to a position behind the bench in Hershey. He also moved with the team when their AHL affiliate relocated to the City of Brotherly Love and established the Philadelphia Phantoms. In 1998 he became one of the rare people to win an AHL Championship as both a coach and previously as a player.

There, current Kings Assistant Coach John Stevens was first a player under Stothers when, and then he later joined Stothers behind the bench for two years after retiring as a player. In a 2007 interview, he referred to Stevens as his “best friend in hockey.”

As an Assistant Coach with the Flyers from 2000-02, Stothers helped guide a roster than included Justin Williams.

Then, as Head Coach in Owen Sound (OHL) from 2002-2007, Stothers was under current Kings executive Mike Futa, who was the GM there during the time (and was even named OHL Executive of the Year in 2005). Trevor Lewis and Bobby Ryan were two of Stothers top players in Owen Sound during the 2006-07 season.

Most recently, Stothers has been the Head Coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors for the past three seasons.

With few roster spots available in Los Angeles next season, Manchester should have a group capable of competing for the AHL’s Calder Cup. They earned the top spot in the Eastern Conference this past season and will feature a roster of returning players – and top Kings prospects – like Derek Forbort, Kevin Gravel, Nick Shore, Michael Mersch, Nic Dowd, JF Berube, and Patrick Bartosak.

MORE: For a look at which Monarchs players are most likely to end up on the Kings opening night roster next October, click here.

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