Sutter brings new attitude to struggling Kings

Darryl Sutter. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency)

Darryl Sutter. (DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI Agency)


, Last Updated: 11:02 PM ET

TORONTO - The struggling Los Angeles Kings arent looking for miracles when former Calgary Flames coach and GM Darryl Sutter takes over behind the bench, but they are hoping he can bring a much-needed attitude adjustment to this pack of NHL underperformers.

The 53-year-old Sutter, known for his hard-nosed ways, signed a contract with the Kings a few days after bench boss Terry Murray was fired last Monday, but he likely wont take over as head coach until a home game Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks. The Viking, Alta., native has needed to time wrap up personal business and receive proper immigration clearance before taking over the coaching duties.

Its expected that Sutter, who signed a multi-year deal with the Kings, will be announced as head coach at a Tuesday news conference in Los Angeles.

Sutter, who has an overall head coaching record of 409-320-131 with three different clubs, inherits a talented team that has not performed up to expectations, struggling to score and often looking indifferent.

The Kings currently sit outside a Western Conference playoff spot, and heading into their game Monday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre, they had dropped seven of 10 games and were tied for the fewest goals in the league with 69.

Whether Sutters gruff ways will sit well with the young Kings remains to be seen, but veteran Jarret Stoll, a veteran presence on the team, believes an attitude adjustment couldnt hurt.

Hes going to bring character, and hes going to bring an attitude that I think we need in here, Stoll said of Sutter. Our attitude is some games its right, and some games its not. Hes a guy that has a lot of respect amongst a lot of players and coaches and general managers in this league. And were going to be a lot harder team to play against under Darryl, so were looking forward to seeing him in L.A. Im sure theres going to be a lot of meetings going on back home just sorting this team out.

It might be a lot to expect from a guy who hasnt coached since 2006 to take over a struggling bunch of underachievers and get them sorted in time to make a playoff run, but long-time friend Dean Lombardi, the Kings GM, must have felt he was the right man for the job. And Stoll seems to agree.

Hes going to bring an attitude that we need around here just a hard, grinding, gritty style, the Melville, Sask., native said. Its going to be tough. Its not going to be easy. We have our work cut out for us we know that. We put ourselves in this situation were looking forward to it, though. Its a big challenge, but we have the guys in here that can stand up to it and make it happen.

Its the fourth coaching change for the Kings in the past six seasons, but sniper Anze Kopitar says its up to the players to go about the business of playing and let the other things work themselves out.

We have to keep focusing on hockey and not get distracted, Kopitar said. Obviously, its a big change every time a new face comes in. You just have to play your game and focus on things you are doing on the ice.

John Stevens took over as interim coach when Murray was fired and will likely see his last game as head man against the Maple Leafs. Stevens is expected to stay on the Kings staff under Sutter.

The coach never should have been fired in the first place, star defenceman Drew Doughty said of Murrays dismissal. It was our fault we werent playing the way he was telling us to play, and we didnt do the things that made us win games.

Sutter led the Flames to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals in 2004. He retired from coaching in 2006 but remained on as GM before being forced to resign from the post with the Flames last December.

Whenever Darryl comes in, obviously, were going to be excited to meet him and see his different techniques for coaching, Doughty added.