Earlier this month, Mayor’s Manor broke news that LA Kings assistant coach Marco Sturm could be headed to the AHL as a head coach. Now, it looks like those details are being finalized, with an official announcement said to be coming soon.
Sturm, who has served in a support role to Todd McLellan for the past three years, will be taking over an Ontario Reign team that has had plenty of changes behind the bench recently. Calder Cup winning coach Mike Stothers was not retained in 2020, after first starting with the team during their time in Manchester. Later that summer, John Wroblewski was hired to take over the Kings top minor league affiliate. He coached Ontario through the pandemic shortened season of 2021, then he took a personal leave of absence 16 games into last season before later resigning; giving him a combined total of just 56 games with the Reign.
In Sturm, the Reign will get somebody highly regarded in coaching circles a few years ago. When LA relieved John Stevens of his duties in November 2018, Sturm was signed to a three-year contract, something viewed as a shrewd move at the time, as he was quickly gaining attention after finding success as coach of the German national team — including a silver medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Further illustrating the myriad of connections often found in hockey, Sturm was originally drafted by Dean Lombardi, while the latter served as GM in San Jose. After later finding success in Boston, Sturm was then acquired by Lombardi in December 2010 to join the Kings. His stint in LA was rather short, playing just 17 games while recovering from serious knee surgery.
In February 2011, Lombardi placed Sturm on waivers; when the Washington Capitals claimed him, it essentially ended his time in SoCal. Sturm went on to also play for Vancouver and Florida before ending his career at 938 NHL games played.
“The high was that I came back again from an injury. It probably wasn’t the way I wanted, but I was playing the game again. I think that was probably the only positive I had,” Sturm later shared, when reflecting back on his brief stint playing for the Kings. “There were a lot of lows, especially here (in LA) and leaving here – probably one of my lowest points and it was tough.”
A few years later when Sturm joined the Kings as an assistant coach, GM Rob Blake noted his ability to relate to players and his newer generation approach to being behind the bench.
“Part of the reason, new generational coaching style, success at the international stage, success as a player, player relations, tremendous person,” said Blake at the time.
Throughout that first season — which was rock bottom for the team and interim coach Willie Desjardins — players such as Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty praised Sturm for his communication style and appreciated the motivation and support that he provided behind the bench.
Some other LA Kings notes:
— Not expected to add/name an AGM any time soon
— New two-year contracts for assistant coaches Bill Ranford and Marco Sturm
— Akil Thomas had shoulder surgery this week to clean up stuff that has bothered him since junior. Should be 100% for camp.
— The Mayor (@mayorNHL) May 28, 2021
After signing an extension with the organization last May, Sturm currently has one year remaining on that deal.
Now, as it appears he is set to take over the Ontario Reign, Sturm is said to be ready for his first head coaching role in North America.
With him sliding into the AHL role, that also leaves a vacant assistant coach spot in Los Angeles with McLellan’s NHL group. While the Kings will have plenty of candidates to sort through in the weeks and months ahead, one name to keep an eye on is former Kings forward Jim Hiller. He was recently let go by the Islanders after developing successful power plays in Detroit, Toronto, and New York.
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