In a recent development, TSN’s Elliotte Friedman revealed that the Los Angeles Kings were on the cusp of finalizing a one-year contract extension with their head coach, Todd McLellan. On the following day, McLellan faced questions from the media regarding this potential extension.
Unsurprisingly, McLellan remained tight-lipped, neither confirming nor denying the impending contract extension. Nevertheless, an intriguing aspect of this prospective deal is that it includes extensions for McLellan’s coaching staff, a fairly customary practice in the world of professional sports but still worth noting.
When probed about his feelings towards the extension, McLellan refrained from expressing a definitive stance. However, the reaction from Kings’ fans has been predominantly positive, especially in light of the reported one-year duration of the extension.
Todd McLellan has consistently met or surpassed expectations throughout the duration of his existing contract. Yet, the upcoming season is poised to be a pivotal one for him with the Kings. Expectations have reached unprecedented heights, and the pressure is on for him to guide the team beyond the initial playoff round.
The one-year extension offers a measure of security for McLellan, preventing him from becoming a “lame duck” coach while avoiding a long-term commitment. This arrangement allows the Kings the flexibility to consider their options should McLellan fall short of expectations or to retain him with a short leash in the subsequent season if necessary.
On the other hand, if McLellan excels and meets or exceeds the elevated expectations, it sets the stage for potential discussions regarding a more enduring contract. Notably, The Hockey News also managed to capture Anze Kopitar’s perspective on the looming contract extension for McLellan.
“I really like being part of this organization,” said McLellan. “When you’re in the coaching position as a member of the coaching staff, not just a head coach, your tentacles go in a lot of different directions. They go to the players, they go to the training staff, they go to media, they work upwards to management, player development. They may even go beyond that into the president and those areas. To find an organization where the communication is good on all of those paths, the way it is here is not an easy thing to do. And I really enjoy it here, the other coaches, the rest of the staff, see it the same way. I don’t think they would be coming to us to talk about moving forward if they didn’t feel that way. So, we’re in a good spot right now. None of that gets you wins or championships or anything like that. That stuff comes with the responsibility and if we’re talking about adding a year on, or whatever that might be, it doesn’t matter right now. What matters is tomorrow’s game against Vegas, preparing for Colorado and moving on.”
Before the news about McLellan’s potential extension broke on Thursday, most of the focus within the Kings’ fanbase revolved around Arthur Kaliyev’s four-game suspension. Speculation had arisen that this suspension might result in Kaliyev losing his place on the Pierre-Luc Dubois line. However, McLellan swiftly dismissed these speculations.
McLellan has consistently shown faith in Kaliyev throughout the preseason camp, and this positive sentiment has remained unwavering even after the suspension.
“He’s not going to lose his spot,” said McLellan. “Last year when he went down with the foot injury, it started out as a short-term injury and ended up being quite a long-term injury. The fact that he didn’t get a lot of skating in and the overall ability to carry that big body around diminished a little bit. That’s unfortunate circumstances where he lost his job, but this suspension won’t prevent him from working, and working really hard, and maintaining his ability to skate and be involved in practices. He’s had a very good training camp and we expect that to continue on when he returns to the lineup in Winnipeg, I think it is.”
As things stand, Jaret Anderson-Dolan is expected to slot into the fourth line, with Carl Grundstrom filling Kaliyev’s spot on the Dubois line in the short term. Nevertheless, as McLellan assured, Kaliyev will soon find himself back on that line when the Kings face off against Winnipeg.