John Stevens Fired as Kings Head Coach; Willie Desjardins Named Interim

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistNovember 4, 2018

MONTREAL, QC - OCTOBER 26:  Head coach of the Los Angeles Kings John Stevens walks past his team celebrating against the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on October 26, 2017 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-0.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Kings fired head coach John Stevens and assistant coach Don Nachbaur on Sunday. 

Stevens, who was hired in April 2017, led the Kings to a 45-29-8 finish last season before they were bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Vegas Golden Knights

That campaign offered reasons for optimism, but the Kings opened the 2018-19 season 4-8-1 with just nine points over their first 13 games. At the time of Stevens' ouster, the Kings were tied with the Florida Panthers for the league's lowest point total. 

Willie Desjardins has been installed as the Kings' interim head coach. 

"This is a critical time in our season and our results to date have fallen well below our expectations. With that in mind, this was a difficult decision but one we feel was necessary," general manager Rob Blake said in a statement"We have a great deal of respect and appreciation for John's time with our organization. He was a key part of our past success, and we have tremendous gratitude for his many contributions."

Stevens also spent a four-game stint as the Kings' interim head coach following Terry Murray's dismissal in 2011. Los Angeles proceeded to hoist the Stanley Cup in 2012 after Darryl Sutter was appointed to the post on a full-time basis. 

Prior to his time on the bench, Stevens enjoyed a five-year NHL career, including three seasons with the Hartford Whalers as a defenseman. He did not score a goal in 53 career games. 

With Stevens out of the picture, the Kings will hope to find more stable footing under Desjardins.

The 61-year-old previously coached the Vancouver Canucks from 2014 to 2017. The team went 109-110 under his watch and 2-4 in the postseason.