Does he dare make another coaching change, given that Eakins is the fourth different coach in the past five years? Does he tweak the coaching staff, but come back with Eakins, on the grounds that he's signed to a long-term contract and MacTavish was so convinced that he had the right guy that he fired Krueger unexpectedly long after last season had ended?
Firing Krueger looks like a bad mistake now, an unnecessary step made to fast-track the rebuild that has backfired in a meaningful and ugly way.
THE ROBERTO LUONGO WATCH: Caught up with Florida Panthers’ goaltender Roberto Luongo following Saturday’s 4-0 loss to Los Angeles – a game that wasn’t really close. Florida was never in it and L.A. which doesn’t score much usually managed four. But the Panthers were missing, among others, top prospects Alexander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Erik Gudbrandson, so they were forced to play a bunch of kids, and it showed. I wondered: Is it hard for Luongo to think big-picture thoughts, given that a lot of the guys who will make a difference down the road for the Panthers are injured?
“Yeah, definitely,” answered Luongo. “You have to have patience. We’re a very young team right now. A lot of our best players are injured. That’s one of the reasons why I came here – for the big picture, especially with new ownership committed to winning and bringing in some guys to complement our young guys. That’s what it’s all about for me. We have some potential here. It’s just a matter of getting the right pieces to add to what we have.”
Luongo has settled in without much of a hitch, given that he always maintained a summer home in Florida, even after all those years in Vancouver. “Vehicles, home, everything was there already,” said Luongo. “That was the best part about it.”
Luongo will likely get asked to play goal for Canada at the world championships, given that the Panthers will miss the playoffs, but didn’t sound as if that was something that interested him.
“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I’m going to take a few weeks off and get back to training after a month or so. As an athlete nowadays, it’s not how it used to be. You always have to be on top of yourself and making sure you’re committed to working out and being fit at all times.”
THE KINGS TAKE THEIR SHOW ON THE ROAD: As the Los Angeles Kings head east to begin a three-game road trip in Philadelphia Monday – which represents Jeff Carter’s first appearance the trade that sent him out of town – there has been an interesting shift in the way coach Darryl Sutter is deploying his personnel since the Marian Gaborik deal.
Brown, who suffered a chest contusion in Saturday’s win over the Panthers after scoring a goal but isn’t expected to miss too much time, is playing the right side on the third line with Jarrett Stoll, while Sutter had former Flyer Mike Richards centring the fourth line with Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford until the Brown injury forced some mixing and matching.
The unit was effective – Richards had his most effective game in weeks and scored the Kings’ second goal of the game. Lewis chipped two assists, but mostly the Kings won with the combination of opportune scoring and exceptional goaltending that led to deep playoff runs in each of the past two springs. The difference is that Brown was a first-liner on those teams, playing mostly with Anze Kopitar, while Richards, Carter and a variety of wingers made up a credible second line.
The Kings targeted Gaborik – or a scorer of his pedigree – because they were coming off an eight-game swoon that featured the usual problems: Not enough scoring and Quick not being quite as sharp as he can be. Gaborik has been a good fit with Kopitar, although almost anyone seems to be able to play with Kopitar, who is in the midst of another fine two-way season which makes him one of the leaders in the Selke Trophy balloting.
But Brown is an interesting case, someone who says he’s fine with where he’s being deployed and happier with how his game is now, post-Olympics, than he was prior to the Olympics, where he really struggled. I asked Brown if he was okay with how he’d been playing up and down the depth chart and he answered yes.