Darryl Sutter has agreed to become the Kings’ next coach and will take over on Tuesday, a source familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly confirmed to The Times Saturday. Sutter signed a contract a few days ago but needed to wrap up some family matters and receive the proper immigration clearance. That’s expected to come through on Monday, and he will be introduced at a news conference on Tuesday in Los Angeles. Sutter signed a multi-year deal, though the exact duration is not known.
The Kings fired Terry Murray Monday and played the last two games under John Stevens, who will coach them Saturday against Detroit at Joe Louis Arena. Stevens is expected to remain on the Kings’ staff under Sutter. However, it’s unclear whether Sutter will bring in another assistant and whether current assistant Jamie Kompon will continue with the team. Sutter and General Manager Dean Lombardi worked together in San Jose, where Lombardi hired Sutter to coach, and they have remained friends. Sutter was Lombardi’s first choice after Lombardi reluctantly dismissed Murray while the Kings were in the throes of a losing streak that reached five games before the team clawed out a 2-1 victory at Columbus on Thursday. Sutter is blunt and gruff but has also earned tremendous loyalty from those who have played for him. He led the Calgary Flames to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals in 2004 but had far less success as the team’s general manager. He resigned that job nearly a year ago and has spent most of his time running the family ranch in Alberta, Canada.
He will take over a team that is solid defensively but has had difficulty scoring this season. He is known to push players hard but will forgive mistakes if players are intense and passionate, and he has little time for those who don’t give a full effort. His approach should be different from Murray’s teacher/fatherly demeanor, and it could jar the Kings enough to extract the talent Lombardi thinks they have. If not, and if the Kings continue to struggle offensively, Lombardi could be out of a job after the season. Sutter will be the fourth coach to work under Lombardi. Marc Crawford coached the Kings for two seasons but had no patience with mistake-prone youngsters and was a poor fit. Murray installed a strong defensive foundation but couldn’t take the team to the next level. Stevens, a Murray disciple, is 1-1 and will coach two more games before handing over the reins, staying behind the bench Saturday in Detroit and Monday in Toronto