Longtime Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter joined the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday as an adviser to new coach Dallas Eakins’ staff, enlivening an otherwise quiet free-agent signing period for Southern California’s two rebuilding NHL clubs.
Sutter is the winningest coach in the history of the Kings, the Ducks’ crosstown archrivals. He has been out of coaching since Los Angeles fired him in April 2017 despite his two Stanley Cup titles.
Anaheim general manager Bob Murray announced the addition with a dry news release, but Sutter’s move down the I-5 freeway added some intrigue to a fallow year for Southern California hockey. The Kings and Ducks missed the Stanley Cup playoffs in the same spring for the first time since 2004, and neither team has made a significant addition in free agency.
“Darryl will provide invaluable expertise to our coaching staff and players,” Murray said. “Both Dallas and I agree his proven track record and vast knowledge of the game will be very beneficial for us.”
The 60-year-old Sutter coached Los Angeles to its only two championships in 2012 and 2014. He won a franchise-record 225 games over 5 1/2 seasons, and his Kings won an impressive 10 playoff series over three seasons during their prime.
The Kings fired Sutter after they missed the playoffs for the second time in three seasons. Los Angeles failed to win a playoff series in the three seasons following its second championship.
Before he joined Los Angeles, Sutter was a general manager and coach with the Calgary Flames. He also had previous stints as a head coach with San Jose and Chicago.
Although Sutter’s Kings put together one of the most impressive three-season runs in recent hockey history, his apparent preference for a deliberate, physical style of play often appeared to clash with the speed and skill prevalent in the modern game.
Yet the change didn’t help the Kings, who are on their third head coach in two years since Sutter’s dismissal. Los Angeles hired Todd McLellan in April.
Anaheim appointed Eakins last month after firing Randy Carlyle during last season. Assistant coaches Mark Morrison and Marty Wilford are expected to stay on Eakins’ staff after they finished last season as assistants to Murray, who coached the Ducks’ final 26 games.