The Los Angeles Kings fired coach Todd McLellan on Friday and named Jim Hiller as interim coach for the remainder of the season.
“We would like to thank Todd for his hard work and dedication to the organization,” Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake said in a statement.
“He did a tremendous job moving us forward and making a positive impact on our group and in our community. It wasn’t an easy decision, but we felt change was necessary at that time. Jim is a highly respected member of our staff who knows our players and we are confident in his ability to lead our team effectively during this pivotal period.
The Kings are off to a 20-7-4 start to the season, with 44 points tied for the most points in team history after 31 games. Since December 28, they have been in 3-8-6. The three wins are tied for first in the league over that span and the 12 points are tied for fifth.
McLellan seemed relieved that the Kings opened the break with a 4-2 victory over Nashville on Wednesday.
“We still have a long way to go to get our game back, but before the break, feeling a little good about ourselves is a very good thing,” he said after the match.
Sixth coach sacked
One of the main reasons for the Kings’ recent slump is the lack of offense. They are averaging just 2.35 goals per game in their last 17 outings, the third worst in the league.
McLellan was in his fifth season behind the Kings bench. He led them to the Stanley Cup playoffs the last two seasons before being eliminated by Edmonton in the first round. On October 31, he became the eighth coach in franchise history to win 100 games and the fifth fastest to do so (219 games).
Hiller, a 10th-round pick of the Kings in the 1989 draft, was an assistant with the team the past two seasons after eight seasons as an assistant with the New York Islanders, Toronto and Detroit. Prior to his NHL coaching career, Hiller spent 12 seasons in the Western Hockey League and British Columbia Hockey League, including five years as head coach of the Tri-City Americans.
McLellan is the sixth coach fired this season, joining Edmonton’s Jay Woodcroft, Minnesota’s Dean Evason, St. Louis’ Craig Berube, Ottawa’s DJ Smith and the Islanders’ Lane Lambert. Mike Babcock resigned in Columbus on the eve of training camp after an investigation into his practice of asking to see photos on players’ phones.