Rumors Kings “Likely” To Remove Interim Tag From Jim Hiller

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Kings interim head coach Jim Hiller is the “overwhelming favorite” to fill their vacancy behind the bench, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on Monday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast (audio link).

The Kings went 21-12-1 (.632) with Hiller at the helm after the All-Star break but were dispatched quickly by the Oilers in five games in the first round. Hiller took over on an interim basis for Todd McLellan, who L.A. fired after four and a half seasons amid a 4-8-6 post-Christmas stretch.

It would be the 55-year-old’s first shot as a full-time NHL head coach. The former Kings, Rangers and Red Wings right wing had a short-lived NHL career as a player in the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons, accumulating eight goals and 20 points in 63 games across the three franchises.

Hiller suited up in the minor leagues and overseas until retiring in 2002, entering the major junior ranks as an assistant coach with the Western Hockey League’s Tri-City Americans the following season. He became their head coach in 2006 after a brief detour with the British Columbia Hockey League’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs, a role he held before departing for an NHL assistant job with the Red Wings in 2014.

He spent one season in Detroit and the next seven years in assistant roles for the Maple Leafs and Islanders before joining L.A. ahead of the 2022-23 campaign. After 10 years of service as an assistant, he’ll likely land his first head coaching gig in the majors.

The Kings controlled possession above average under Hiller, logging 51.8% of shot attempts at even strength. It was considerably lower than the 56.0 CF% they had to start the season under McLellan, though. In fact, a 51.8 CF% over a full season would be the Kings’ worst since the 2020-21 campaign, when they missed the playoffs with a 21-28-7 record in the COVID-shortened season.

Los Angeles moving to retain Hiller would leave the Devils, Sharks, Kraken and Jets as the four remaining vacancies league-wide.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports.

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