On a day a coaching vacancy was officially filled in Toronto, the Los Angeles Kings created another one.
Marc Crawford was fired Tuesday as head coach of the Kings after two losing seasons. He had one year remaining on his contract.
“There’s not just one thing that goes into this decision,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi said. “You throw it all in and it comes down to your gut.”
The Kings, 29th in the NHL in 2007-08, will continue to rebuild and get even younger. They hold the second overall pick in next Friday’s first round of the NHL entry draft.
Lombardi felt a different coach was needed to help bring the process along.
“There’s no doubt we’re committed to the way we are going,” Lombardi told reporters on a conference call. “After my meeting with ownership this week it’s more evident than ever that they’re committed towards building a young core, for lack of a better term, the old-fashioned way.
“So taking that all in, you’re making a gut call, I guess, on the fit for what we project our team to be like.”
The Kings were 59-84-21 under Crawford.
“I think it’s fair to say we did not expect the team to be out of the playoffs in January this year,” said Lombardi. “I don’t we were kidding ourselves into thinking we were world beaters, we set realistic expectations.
“Certainly that enters the equation when you’re evaluating the coaching staff and the players. But the most important thing for me was going forward.”
Lombardi said associate coach Mike Johnston would be a candidate for the head job.
“I want to talk to Mike Johnston about the possibility of being considered for this role and see where he’s at mentally,” said Lombardi. “We’ll see where that is at once he’s had some time to reflect. …
“I think he’s pretty well respected within the industry.”
The Kings will begin the search Wednesday but aren’t in a hurry to fill the void.
“We’re going to take our time, go through a process and hopefully get the right guy,” said Lombardi.
“I’m going to try to keep this small,” he added. “We’re going to be methodical, we’re not going to rush into anything. This is a critical hire. We’ll get through the development camp in July and hopefully make the right gut call in the end.”
Crawford, who did not immediately return a phone message, had previously worked for Vancouver, Quebec and Colorado, where he won the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche in 1996.
“Marc’s record speaks for itself in terms of his winning record but I guess it just comes down to a matter of fit,” said Lombardi.