The Los Angeles Kings went in-house for their new coaching hire, as the team and John Stevens have agreed to contract terms for Stevens to serve as the club’s new Head Coach, it was announced by Kings Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake.
The move is a promotion for Stevens, who most recently served as the club’s Associate Head Coach. He has been part of the Kings coaching staff the past seven seasons.
“John and I had very productive dialogue this last week in relation to his head coaching philosophy and specifically how he would implement a strategy to activate our players offensively while maintaining the defensive philosophies we have come to be known for,” said Blake. “I am confident that we are both in agreement on how that can be executed. With that said, we believe John has the ideal qualities to lead our hockey club. His wide array of coaching experience, including success as an NHL head coach and his inherent knowledge of our players and those in our development system, is very appealing to us. We are confident he is the best person to lead our hockey club forward.”
Blake and Stevens will announce the rest of the Kings coaching staff – which also includes Goaltending Coach Bill Ranford – at a later date.
Stevens is officially the 27th Head Coach in Kings history with 24 different men – including Stevens – having served as Head Coach. Stevens served as the Kings Head Coach for four games during the 2011-12 regular season (Dec. 13, Dec. 15, Dec. 17 and Dec. 19), and the Kings posted a 2-2-0 record. Stevens replaced Terry Murray (his last game was December 10, 2011) before Darryl Sutter was hired (his first game was December 22, 2011). Sutter and his coaching staffs played pivotal roles in the Kings winning the two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014.
On the defensive end in particular, Stevens has helped direct the Kings to top-10 finishes in fewest goals allowed per game in every year he has been with the Kings and since he was hired in 2010-11, the Kings hold the lowest goals against per game average in the league. The club’s penalty killing percentage has ranked in the Top-10 in four out of the seven years he has been with the club including the fourth-best penalty killing unit since he was hired.
Stevens, 50, has an established coaching track record at a variety of levels including the NHL when he served as Head Coach of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2006-09. With the Flyers his club had a 120-109-34 record while leading the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Final in 2008.
Stevens took over as the Flyers Head Coach on October 22, 2006, after beginning the 2006-07 campaign as the club’s Assistant Coach. The Flyers were 21-42-11 under Stevens in 2006-07, before having a great turn-around in 2007-08 (the Flyers had an NHL-best 39-point improvement from the year before). In Philadelphia, Stevens coached a team that featured seven 20-goal scorers (2007-08) and those Flyers were one of two NHL teams to feature three defensemen who registered 30 points. Following that season The Hockey News honored Stevens with their Coach of the Year Award.
Stevens also played in the NHL as he played parts of five seasons with Philadelphia and Hartford as a defenseman.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services