John Stevens is a hot coaching commodity, and rightfully so. He’s worked with the defense for the Los Angeles Kings during their two Stanley Cups in three seasons. He’s a former NHL head coach with the Philadelphia Flyers.
All of this is good reason why Stevens was reportedly shortlisted by the Vancouver Canucks, Carolina Hurricanes and the Pittsburgh Penguins for their coaching vacancies … and good reason why the Los Angeles Kings aren’t allowing him to speak with other teams.
The Kings were pestered by the Canucks last season for Stevens as well, before making their ill-fated hiring of John Tortorella. Said LA Kings head coach Darryl Sutter in 2013:
“Hey, I think Johnny is a head coach. I think he is a head coach with us. [Reporter: What does that make you?] Part of a staff. Again, I’ve always said that. It’s not about a ‘head coach.’ I think everybody has to share responsibility and that’s what good teams do. I’m not one of those guys that has to be the center of attention. And does Johnny Stevens want to be a head coach? Absolutely. But that’s how I feel about him on our staff. It doesn’t really affect anybody else.”
Obviously this decision by the Kings is going to be interpreted as an endorsement of Stevens as Sutter’s eventual replacement when the quotable coach decides to move on from the LA Kings bench. Well, that and a desire to keep the band together as long as the Kings can. (Hashtag: Dynasty.)
It stinks that Stevens has to wait his turn. But a contract is a contract. And hey, maybe he's fine sticking with the Kings until Sutter decides it's time.