Manor Latest on LA Kings Head Coach Situation

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It’s been three weeks since now since the Kings were eliminated by the Oilers in their first round playoff series. Like every year, summer begins with a litany of offseason questions. There are roster decisions to be made, contracts to be signed, even a new jersey to likely be revealed.

And then there’s the matter of who will coach the team.

Let’s start with a timeline and then dig in further because that may be the best way to stitch this story together:

Feb. 10 – Jim Hiller officially takes over as head coach, guiding the team to a 21-12-1 record to close out the regular season.

May 1 – Kings lose to the Oilers

May 3 – Mayor’s Manor reported there was a 70% chance Hiller would be retained

May 6 – GM Rob Blake holds his end-of-season press conference and confirms the team will meet with Hiller about the potential of staying on as head coach.

May 13Mayor’s Manor article notes that Trent Yawney will most likely be the odd man out behind the bench, as both he and D.J. Smith are defensive oriented coaches.

May 16 – Kings announce Yawney won’t return for 2024-25 season. Despite Blake saying they want to keep their defensive mindset, keeping Yawney and Smith doesn’t make sense. NHL benches typically feature a head coach and three assistants — one each for the forwards, defense, and goalies. With that in mind, if Hiller was to be the head guy, the team will need a spot for an offensive coach.

May 19 – Mayor’s Manor reports Hiller is at the Ontario Reign game with the Kings brass, watching several of the team’s top prospects (including players like Brandt Clarke, Alex Turcotte, and Akil Thomas; all of whom are expected to be on the NHL roster next season).

According to several of our sources, a deal between Hiller and the Kings has not yet been finalized.

Why?

That’s a good question that simply hasn’t been answered this far.

We would speculate there are two possible reasons — and it might even be a mix of both.

The first possible reason would be money. Essentially, they’ll be paying Todd McLellan for next season… unless he lands another job. Basically, when a coach is fired, he is still paid out that money — with a few stipulations. For example, if McLellan was to be paid $5M next year and another team hires him for $4M, the Kings are still on the hook for the remaining $1M. That usually doesn’t happen, though, as coaches typically get paid at least the same, if not more, on their next contract.

Where things are a little murky is exactly how much LA is on the hook for with McLellan. As we reported previously, it is believed his one-year extension for next season was not valued at the same $5M he made during his first contract with the team. Regardless, all NHL teams still operate within a budget. So, knowing how much they’ll have available could play into how much money, and even how many years, they offer Hiller. Just because Blake has one year remaining on his contract, there is no guarantee Hiller will only be offered a one-year deal.

Keep in mind that Yawney was also under contract for next season. So his departure would also suggest, at least to a degree, that there is some belief McLellan will land a job soon.

So, money could play a role in all of this.

The second reason, which could even be tied to the first reason in a way, is LA’s next assistant coach. Perhaps the Hiller part of all of this is actually settled and they just want to wait until they find a new assistant so there is one big announcement. Maybe it’s actually that simple.

Either way, we’re bumping the percentage that Hiller returns up to 90%. We’d put it at 100% except for the fact it still isn’t done. So, let’s leave a little wiggle room for a last-minute swerve… even if that seems highly unlikely.

Which all leads to the actual biggest question surrounding the Kings right now.

The issue is offense. That’s what the Kings are looking for this summer and that makes it the hot topic.

More specifically, who will they bring in to round out the coaching staff?

It’s going to be an offensive-minded coach, perhaps even similar to when they brought in Pierre Turgeon at Offensive Coordinator back in July 2017.

No names have surfaced just yet. However, there are still two more pieces to the story.

If somehow, someway, the Kings don’t hire Hiller as head coach, don’t expect him to return as an assistant. We’ve been lead to believe that option isn’t on the table.

Second, don’t look for Marco Sturm to be the new assistant. He made that clear on Sunday night.

Marco Sturm — "I'm a head coach"

More on his future… pic.twitter.com/dcCae98Zp5

— The Mayor | Team MM (@mayorNHL) May 20, 2024


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