Daily News As Kings approach All-Star break, are Todd McLellan’s days numbered?


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
Staff member
Jul 28, 2004
The Kings arrived in Nashville for Wednesday’s showdown with the Predators, the final game before an extended break and one that could signal the end of the Todd McLellan era in Los Angeles.

The break, which runs from Feb. 1 to Feb. 9, is partly because of the pause for All-Star weekend, where the struggling Cam Talbot will, fittingly, represent the struggling Kings. It could provide time for the Kings to evaluate and make a change behind the bench to replace McLellan, a well-reputed coach with the highest salary among active NHL stewards.

McLellan, whose team has lost 14 of its last 16 games, seemed well-prepared for a recent query about his job security. He confronted the question head on after a recent loss to Buffalo. That was defeat No. 12 in this dismal stretch.

“Well, that’s a very fair question. If I was sitting in your seat, and you were standing here, I’d ask you that. I’m responsible for this. When you look at the team that played the first 25, 30 games, if you will, it doesn’t look like the team that’s playing right now and I’m responsible for it,” McLellan said.

“Our staff is doing what we can, or what we believe we can, to get them to turn it around. We’re trying different things at different times, but I’m going to keep pushing away. I’m going to try and push buttons, poke people, praise people and look at how we do things. Our numbers, our underlying numbers, say we’re more the first half team than the second half team, but the win column doesn’t say that and that’s all that matters. So, it’s a very fair question.”

McLellan’s accountability was complete and more in step with that of the Kings’ prominent players than its management. But McLellan and his leadership group’s forthrightness didn’t help matters in a 5-1 inundation by the Colorado Avalanche. Nor did it save them when the St. Louis Blues took a more respectable effort from the Kings and handed them the same disrespectful result they get seemingly every time they take a game to overtime. They are 2-10 this season when they’ve given Kings fans a now unwelcome bonus of five minutes of or less of additional competition.

St. Louis, which made its own coaching change earlier this season, and Nashville are currently in a points tie with the Kings, 54 apiece. The three clubs occupy a space where just two wild-card playoff berths are available. Meanwhile the Edmonton Oilers, whom the Kings will host on Feb. 10 when they return from the break, have won 16 straight matches and by then may have broken the Mario Lemieux-led Pittsburgh Penguins’ NHL record of 17 consecutive victories (they play Feb. 6 at Vegas and Feb. 9 when they visit the Ducks).

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Although Phillip Danault was among a handful of Kings to get back on track against the Blues in St. Louis, Quinton Byfield (illness) missed a second straight game. The last two contests were unproductive again for big-ticket trade target Pierre-Luc Dubois, who in over 28 minutes had two shots and a minus-two rating aggregately, leaving him stuck at 20 points for the season. While the high-performance, high-usage penalty kill had his back when he hooked former Kings forward Brayden Schenn, Schenn would later score the overtime game-winner.

The Predators added a reputed pivot of their own this summer, former Selke Trophy winner and Conn Smythe honoree Ryan O’Reilly. O’Reilly, like former Nashville and current Dallas Stars center Matt Duchene, hit the unrestricted free agent market. The two players have scored 42 and 45 points respectively, and cost their teams nothing more than their salaries as UFAs. Combined, they make $7.5 million against the cap, $1 million less than Dubois alone.


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