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Kings Fire McLellan, Hire Hillier and Smith to Complete Coaching Staff

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Within the past week, the Los Angeles Kings have made three significant announcements about their coaching staff. They fired Head coach Todd McLellan and replaced him with assistant coach Jim Hiller. To fill the void of an assistant coach, they have hired former Ottawa Senators coach, D.J. Smith, to round out the coaching staff.

Kings have plenty of changes behind the bench

The Kings fired McLellan after a successful start to the season that went horribly bad in a short amount of time. Los Angeles opened the season with a 20-7-4 record but then lost their next eight games from December 28, 2023 to January 13, 2024. Entering the all-star break, the Kings had lost four of it’s past seven. The Kings are 15 points behind the Pacific division-leading Vancouver Canucks. McLellan becomes the sixth head coach to get fired this season, with the Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, and St. Louis Blues all making changes as early as mid-November 2023.

Hiller comes into the Los Angeles Head Coaching role with the team on a horrid streak. He has a huge task in front of him as the Kings still have a chance at a wild card or regular playoff spot. A new voice, a new direction, a new assistant coach, and possibly a new system may be what the team needs to get back on track. A lot of pressure on both the team, coaching staff, and General Manager Rob Blake to turn things around quickly.

This will be Hiller’s first head coaching job as he has been an assistant coach while with the Detroit red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, and New York Islanders. He was first brought to Los Angeles to oversee the power play and now has total control of all aspects of the team going forward.

Smith comes to Los Angeles after being fired as Senators head coach, a position he was hired to in May 2019. He took over a team on the rise and they simply did not meet expectations under his guidance. He was replaced by Jacques Martin and he now heads to the Kings as an assistant coach, where he will help lead the charge to get this team focused again. Smith was an assistant with the Maple Leafs before assuming head coaching duties with Ottawa.

These changes can be good for the team as the structure will change but to what degree? Do the Kings play better and get back into the playoff picture or do they continue to struggle once again make changes in the off-season?

(photo: mayorsmanor; John Hoven)
(photo: ottawasun.com; Bruce Garrioch)
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