LA Kings: Power Ranking the Team's Best Coaches in Franchise History

Jacob Betzner@@JacobBetznerCorrespondent IIApril 11, 2012

LA Kings: Power Ranking the Team's Best Coaches in Franchise History

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    The Los Angeles Kings joined the NHL in 1967 when Canadian entrepreneur and sports enthusiast Jack Kent Cooke funded an expansion team in Southern California.

    Legendary players, including Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor, Luc Robitaille, Rogie Vachon and Wayne Gretzky, arguably the best player in the history of professional hockey, all donned the purple and yellow or black and silver (depending on the era) at one time.

    Despite a history of highly skilled players, none of the 23 coaches in the franchise's history have ever guided the Kings to a Stanley Cup victory.

    In December 2011, the Kings hired Darryl Sutter as the franchise's 24th head coach.

    The 53-year-old relieved former head coach Terry Murray after his relatively successful four-plus seasons in Hollywood.

    Sutter's Kings held on to clinch an eighth seed in the Western Conference and a trip to the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. 

    Sutter hopes to be the first coach to guide the SoCal franchise to a championship despite a low seeding.

John Torchetti (2006)

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    John Torchetti served as the interim head coach for the Kings at near the end of the 2005-2006 season.

    The Kings brought him in to coach the remainder of the season and secure a seven or eight seed in the playoffs.

    Torchetti failed to clinch a playoff spot, going 5-7-0 in 12 games with LA, and was released at season's end.

Johnny Wilson (1969-1970)

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    Johnny Wilson took over as the third coach in Kings history after a poor outing by Hal Laycoe.

    Wilson finished even worse than his predecessor, finishing out the 1969-1970 season with an abysmal 9-34-9 record.

    Unfortunately, Wilson succumbed to pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 82, two days after Christmas of last year. 

    Before coaching, the Red Wings' legend played in 580 consecutive games at one point in his NHL career, an almost unthinkable accomplishment for any era.

Hal Laycoe (1969)

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    Hal Laycoe coached part of the 1969 season after coaching the Portland Buckaroos of the of the Western Hockey League.

    Laycoe is best known for starting the fight with Montreal Canadiens star Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, which led to the suspension of Richard by the NHL after punching a referee and an ensuing riot in the streets of Montreal, and fueled the growing tension between English and French descendants in the province of Quebec.  Talk about two minutes for instigating.

    Laycoe served as the second coach in Kings history, and finished 5-18-1.

Fred Glover (1971-1972)

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    Fred Glover is about as legendary as any player in the history of professional hockey in Cleveland.  He guided the Barons of the AHL to two Calder Cup Championships in 1954 and 1957, won two scoring titles and won the league MVP award three times.

    Unfortunately, his talent on the ice did not translate behind the bench.

    Glover coached the Kings to an 18-42-8 record, continuing a string of losing seasons in the City of Angels.

Parker MacDonald (1981-1982)

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    Parker MacDonald was a successful coach and player in the minor leagues, winning AHL coach of the year honors one season, but couldn't quite handle the pressure of an NHL coaching gig.

    He coached half a season in Los Angeles, finishing 13-24-5.

Larry Reagan (1970-1971)

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    Larry Reagan is probably most remembered by old-time Kings fans for punching an official while coaching Los Angeles in a game against the in-state rival Oakland Seals.

    NHL President Clarence Campbell suspended Reagan and fined the former Calder Memorial Trophy winner $1,000, an exorbitant amount of money considering the time, after the incident.

    Reagan went 27-47-14 behind the Kings' bench.

Mike Murphy (1987)

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    Mike Murphy is another former Kings player-turned-coach.

    He also coached the Kings to a losing season, going 20-37-8 in regular season play and 1-3 in the playoffs.

    He currently serves as the NHL's Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations.

Don Perry (1982-1984)

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    Don Perry played 19 seasons of professional hockey, none of which were spent in the NHL.

    He managed to land the head coaching job for the Kings after 14 seasons of coaching (and still playing for several years) in the minors. 

    Needless to say, Perry paid his dues.  However, after taking control of the Kings, he went 52-85-31 in the regular season and 4-6 in the playoffs before returning to coach in the minor leagues.

Ron Stewart (1977-1978)

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    Ron Stewart, a legendary center for the Toronto Maple Leafs, died of cancer less than a month ago.

    Before taking over coaching duties in Los Angeles, he won three Stanley Cups with the Leafs and played in four NHL All-Star games.

    He finished his coaching stint with the Kings just under .500, with a 31-34-15 record in the regular season and a winless 0-2 record in the playoffs.

Larry Robinson (1995-1999)

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    Larry Robinson won a Stanley Cup in 1995 as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils, and was brought in to relieve Barry Melrose as the Kings' head coach the following season.

    The dramatic change in hairstyles shocked the Southern California team at first, but fortunately, things settled down a few games into Robinson's reign.

    The Hall of Fame defenseman went 122-161-45 behind the Kings' bench, and lost all four playoff games he coached.

Marc Crawford (2006-2008)

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    Marc Crawford won a Stanley Cup as the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche in 1996, but missed the playoffs both years he coached in Los Angeles.

    He ended his stint as the Kings' head coach with a 59-84-21 record, finishing fifth and fourth in the Pacific division in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Roger Neilson (1984)

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    Roger Neilson assumed command of the Los Angeles Kings for the second half of the 1984 season.

    He was well known throughout the hockey world for his dedication to the game.

    He constantly analyzed loopholes in rules, forcing the NHL to amend or add their regulations, and popularized the strategic use of video replay to study opponents.

    While he had a successful NHL coaching career, his half-season in LA was anything but stellar.  He finished with an 8-17-3 record.

    Neilson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002 in the "builder" category.

Red Kelly (1967-1969)

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    Red Kelly coached the Kings for two seasons, making two playoff appearances despite a 55-75-20 record.

    He was the first coach in Kings history, hired by founder and owner Jack Kent Cooke to lead his newly founded California franchise.

    Kelly started coaching the Kings immediately after retiring as a Maple Leaf.  He won four Stanley Cups with Detroit prior to winning four with the Maple Leafs, and is widely regarded as one of the game's top all-time defensemen.

    Red, so named because of his fiery hair, also served in the Canadian House of Commons while playing in Toronto.

Pat Quinn (1984-1987)

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    Pat Quinn is known throughout the league as one of hockey's premier coaches.

    However, he finished 75-101-26 with Los Angeles and went winless in three tries in the playoffs.

    He went on to coach Team Canada to an Olympic gold medal in 2002, and has coached 1,400 NHL games to date.

Rogatien Vachon (1984/1987/1995)

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    Rogatien Vachon starred for Team Canada in the 1976 Canada Cup, where the Canadians beat the Czech Republic in two games in a best-of-three championship series.

    Vachon played in nearly 800 NHL games before retiring.

    The former All-Star goaltender served as an interim head coach on three separate occasions for the Kings, in addition to serving as LA's general manager from 1984 to 1992.

    He coached two games for the Kings in 1984, going 1-0-1.

    In 1987, he coached one game, going 0-1-0.

    In 1995, Vachon coached seven games for the Kings, going 3-2-2, bringing his career record with the Kings to 4-3-3.

    An interesting coaching career to say the least, but in his managerial role, he, along with then-owner Bruce McNall, orchestrated a trade to acquire Wayne "The Great One" Gretzky from Edmonton in 1988.

Robbie Ftorek (1987-1989)

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    Robbie Ftorek was one of the United States' first hockey stars.  He played in nearly 400 NHL games, and quickly transitioned into a hard-nosed head coach.

    He took the job behind the Kings' bench in 1987 and was the first Kings coach to manage Wayne Gretzky after the superstar arrived in Hollywood in 1988.

    Ftorek did a relatively decent job with the Kings compared to other coaches in franchise history.  He finished his tenure with a 65-56-11 record and led LA to the playoffs twice.

Bob Berry (1978-1981)

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    Bob Berry started a lengthy coaching career in 1978 when he took control of the Kings' bench.

    Fans remembered Berry as a goal-scoring forward who played in two NHL All-Star games as a member of the Kings.

    In 240 games, Berry compiled a 107-94-29 record in regular season play, but a meager 2-8 playoff record.

    After three years with the Kings, Berry went on to coach in Montreal, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and San Jose before retiring in 2000.

Terry Murray (2008-2011)

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    Terry Murray was fired in December 2011 and replaced by current Kings head coach Darryl Sutter.

    Murray led the Kings for parts of four seasons, finishing 126-94-26 in the regular season and 4-8 in the postseason.

    Murray's offensively loaded team failed to live up to expectations this year, and he was relieved of his position for the stricter Sutter.

Tom Webster (1989-1992)

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    Tom Webster had the luxury of coaching a Kings team led by Wayne Gretzky during three of No. 99's best statistical seasons in LA.

    However, Webster might best be remembered for throwing a stick at referee Kerry Fraser in a 1991 game and receiving a 12-game suspension from the NHL.

    He went 115-94-31 with the Kings during his time as head coach, but never made it past the second round of the NHL playoffs.

Andy Murray (1999-2006)

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    Andy Murray coached 480 games for the Kings in parts of seven seasons.

    The former car salesman compiled a 215-176-89 regular season record and a 10-14 playoff record.

    He went on to be named a Jack Adams trophy nominee in 2009, ultimately losing to Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins.

    Murray currently serves as the head coach of the Western Michigan NCAA men's ice hockey team, where he guided the Broncos to a 2012 CCHA Tournament Championship.

Bob Pulford (1972-1977)

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    Bob Pulford arrived in Los Angeles in 1970 as a player.  He hung up his skates and picked up a whistle in 1972, immediately becoming the Kings' head coach after his retirement from playing.

    Pulford actually found success as a head coach of the Kings.  He guided the Kings to the NHL playoffs in 1974, the team's first postseason berth since 1969, and won the Jack Adams Trophy as the league's top coach in 1975.

    He finished 178-150-68 after five seasons with the Kings and compiled an 11-15 playoff record.

Barry Melrose (1992-1995)

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    Based on "flow" (hockey hair in layman's terms) alone, Barry Melrose is the hands-down, run-away winner in ranking all the Kings' coaches.

    However, Melrose also had a pretty successful coaching stint in LA, and gets the top ranking anyway.

    He didn't have a tremendous regular season record, going 79-101-29 over parts of three seasons, but he took a very good Kings team, led by Gretzky, to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993, capturing the franchise's first (and only) Western Conference Championship.

    Melrose had a 13-11 playoff record with Los Angeles.

    Nowadays, one can usually see Barry on ESPN, where he serves as the station's lead hockey analyst.