Friday, May 18, 2012
Kings trying to join elite company
By Dan Arritt
A Stanley Cup title is still five victories away, but many have pegged the Los Angeles Kings as favorites at this point of the postseason. The Kings, winners of eight consecutive playoff games and 11 of 12 overall, would earn a spot in history should they raise the Cup.
ESPN Stats & Info did a little digging and found out that according to sports-reference.com, only one other team among the four major professional sports in North America, the 1978 New York Yankees, has produced a championship team after making two coaching changes during the regular season.
Terry Murray started the season as head coach of the Kings, but was fired Dec. 12 after the team struggled to a 13-12-4 start while averaging 2.1 goals a game. John Stevens served as interim coach for four games before Darryl Sutter took over and guided the team to a 25-13-9 record the remainder of the regular season, good enough to claim the No. 8 seed for the Western Conference playoffs.
As they say, the rest has been history.
The Kings knocked off the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks in five games, then swept the second-seeded St. Louis Blues in the second round, becoming the first eighth-seeded team to knock off the top two seeds in the playoffs. They currently have a 3-0 series lead on the Phoenix Coyotes heading into Sunday's Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
The ’78 Yankees began the season with Billy Martin at the helm, but he was fired after 94 games and replaced for one game by Dick Howser. Bob Lemon then finished off the regular season before leading New York to the World Series title against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Only nine teams have won a championship with two different head coaches during the regular season; four in the NHL, three in the NBA and two in Major League Baseball. The most recent team was the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins, which included current Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi.