Well, we've made it to the NHL All-Star weekend, which is something most people around the game of hockey look forward to. While many fans have soured on the once so-entertaining skills competition and the game itself, many players and coaches who are not attending All-Star weekend look forward to the week or so away from the game. It's when many head out on vacation or reconnect with their families and catch up on some much-needed rest before the 'official' start of the second half of the season. But for others, it will be an extended vacation.
As the famous Queen lyric mentions, another one bites the dust. The Los Angeles Kings recently fired former Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Todd McLellan.
McLellan, a former Mike Babcock assistant, led the Kings to a solid 23-15-10 record this season. That places Los Angeles fourth in the Pacific Division. The Kings flew out of the gate to begin the year going 20-7-4, which had many predicting they'd be a serious Stanley Cup contender once again, but since limped to the break producing just 3-8-6 over their past 17 contests.
I don't suspect McLellan will be available very long and should have another job before the start of next season. Since leaving the Detroit Red Wings, he spent time in Edmonton, San Jose, and Los Angeles, boasting a career record of 598-412-134 in 16 seasons. Jim Hiller, another coach with ties to the Detroit Red Wings, will take over for the Kings on an interim basis. Hiller had been working as an assistant coach with the Kings as he did in the past with Detroit for one season under Babcock.
Things haven't gone so well for a slew of former Detroit Red Wings coaches.
I can't help but snicker to myself when thinking about Babcock; he didn't have much luck this season, either. The ego-driven coach was fired or 'stepped down' from his gig in Columbus nearly hours after getting the job. The NHLPA investigated Babcock on the invasion of privacy allegations after requesting the cell phones of Blue Jackets' players in an attempt to 'better get to know' his new team.
When talking about McLellan, I mentioned Edmonton. The Oilers have endured a chaotic season to date. Former Red Wings general manager and current Oilers GM Ken Holland fired Jay Woodcroft after a horrendous 3-9-1 start. Woodcroft previously had served as Detroit's video coach on Babcock's staff like McLellan and Hiller. Since the change to Kris Knoblauch, the Oilers have ripped off a 16-game win streak and have produced a 26-6-6 record.
Also, the New York Islanders recently made a head coaching change, firing former Detroit Red Wing Lane Lambert. Lambert had been a highly sought-after name that many Red Wings fans linked to Detroit after the firing of Jeff Blashill. Lambert had been roommates with Detroit Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman during their playing days. After New York let Barry Trotz go, they simply promoted Lambert.
Lambert was unable to complete his second season as bench boss but combined for a 61-46-20 overall record. He led the Islanders to the postseason last year but was bounced in the first round by the Carolina Hurricanes. New York hired Patrick Roy (spit) as his replacement. Lou Lamoriello is an old-school manager and, although he has a history of being impatient, must believe Roy is best suited for the job; if not, maybe Lou will call his own number as he did with the New Jersey Devils.