The Los Angeles Kings have named Darryl Sutter as their new head coach as the team looks to rebound from a lackluster first half of the season.
Sutter, 53, who will make make his debut on Thursday when the Kings host the Anaheim Ducks at Staples Center, take over for interim head coach John Stevens after Terry Murray was fired.
The last time Sutter had a head coaching job was in 2006 when he was with the Calgary Flames. He has also coached the Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks.
The Kings (15-14-4, 34 points) are in fourth place in the Pacific and 10th in the Western Conference. Last season, Los Angeles came within a point of tying the fourth best record in the West. They were eliminated in the first round by division rival San Jose in a tight series.
In the offseason, the Kings made some notable acquisitions, such as Simon Gagne. However, the left wing has seven goals on the season, and hasn't scored since Nov. 17.
Center Mike Richards has provided scoring for Los Angeles, but has been inactive since Dec. 1 with a head injury. Richards should be back on the ice soon, which will give the Kings a much-needed lift with Dustin Brown struggling to score this season, and with Anze Kopitar held without a goal since Nov. 22. Jarret Stoll only has three goals on the season, after finishing with 20 last season.
With 49 games remaining (23 at home and 26 away), the Kings still have a good chance to salvage the season, and have plenty of reason to be optimistic. The goal-scoring should pick up as Los Angeles should expect many of their top players to break out of their slumps.
Defense has been the Kings foundation in recent seasons. Star defenseman Drew Doughty, considered among the best young players in the NHL, has improved in recent games after missing most of training camp. With Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier, the Kings have an excellent goalie combo. The Kings can also perhaps expect a better effort out of Jack Johnson, who was impressive last season.
It will be up to Sutter to help turn things around for a club that many expected to challenge for the Stanley Cup.
Sutter is ranked seventh among active coaches with 409 wins, and led the Flames to the 2004 Stanley Cup finals.