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Los Angeles Kings fire former Flyers head coach John Stevens

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Los Angeles Kings fire former Flyers head coach John Stevens

LOS ANGELES — The struggling Los Angeles Kings fired head coach John Stevens on Sunday just 13 games into his second season in charge.

Willie Desjardins was named the Kings' interim head coach by general manager Rob Blake.

Los Angeles also fired assistant coach Don Nachbaur and hired former Kings forward Marco Sturm to replace him on Desjardins' staff.

Los Angeles is last in the overall NHL standings after a 4-8-1 start. The Kings have been outscored 45-28, but they had won two of their past three games following a six-game losing streak.

The Kings beat Columbus 4-1 on Saturday in Stevens' final game in charge, but Blake decided to make his second coaching change in 19 months after LA's terrible start.

"This is a critical time in our season, and our results to date have fallen well below our expectations," Blake said in a statement. "With that in mind, this was a difficult decision, but one we feel was necessary. We have a great deal of respect and appreciation for John's time with our organization. He was a key part of our past success, and we have tremendous gratitude for his many contributions."

Stevens took over in 2017 after seven years as an assistant in Los Angeles under Terry Murray and Darryl Sutter. The former Philadelphia Flyers head coach was an assistant on the Kings' Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2012 and 2014.

Stevens' promotion was an attempt to create a new mentality for the Kings while maintaining some continuity to Sutter, whose grinding style of hockey won the only two Stanley Cup titles in franchise history. Sutter's coaching and former general manager Dean Lombardi's clever moves won two championships, but also left the Kings with a relatively slow, veteran-laden roster that struggled to compete consistently in the speed-based NHL after 2014.

The results of Stevens' tenure had been mixed: The Kings went 45-29-8 in Stevens' debut last season, finishing fourth in the Pacific Division and getting swept by Vegas in the first round of the playoffs. Los Angeles got off to its awful start this season while playing largely without goalie Jonathan Quick and forward Dustin Brown, who were both out with injuries for long stretches.

The Kings still have a wealth of top-end NHL talent including Hart Trophy finalist Anze Kopitar, Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Drew Doughty and high-scoring forward Jeff Carter. But their farm system's inability to produce above-average players in recent years has dramatically thinned their depth and competitiveness.

Desjardins was the Vancouver Canucks' head coach from 2014-17, missing the playoffs in two of his three seasons. He then coached the Canadian men's national team to bronze medals at the Pyeongchang Olympics last February.

Sturm had a 14-year NHL playing career ending in 2012. He had been the head coach of the German national team since 2015, leading his nation to a silver medal in Pyeongchang.

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Flyers' Radko Gudas receives 2-game suspension, opening door for Philippe Myers

Flyers' Radko Gudas receives 2-game suspension, opening door for Philippe Myers

Radko Gudas was burned by his reputation Wednesday and it will cost him from playing in two of the Flyers' biggest games this season.

The NHL's Department of Player Safety handed down a two-game suspension for Gudas' high-sticking infraction to the head of Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov during the third period of the Flyers' 5-2 loss Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Gudas is classified as a repeat offender under the terms of the CBA and his history of such penalties bit him in this circumstance, as he'll miss Thursday's road game against the Canadiens and Saturday's Stadium Series game against the Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field. 

On top of the suspension, the Flyers' defenseman will also forfeit $81,707.32.

Here was the review and reasoning behind the decision from the NHL's Department of Player Safety:

While we agree with Gudas' assertion that this slash is not excessively forceful or violent, this is an intentional play by Gudas. A player who intentionally brings his stick down onto the head of an opponent with a two-handed slashing motion can expect to be penalized by the on-ice officials and, in most cases, be met with some form of supplemental discipline be it a warning, a fine or a suspension.

What causes this play to rise to the level of a suspension is Gudas' disciplinary history, specifically his history of similar behavior.

Prior to this incident, Gudas had been hit with suspensions of 10 games (2017-18), six games (2016-17) and three games (2015-16).

The 28-year-old has cleaned up his play significantly this season, becoming one of the Flyers' most reliable defensemen. Gudas owns a team-best plus-12 rating and his penalties have been down compared to years past. He also plays the Flyers' second-most penalty-kill minutes (159:16), while leading the team in hits (197) and blocking the third-most shots (101).

His absence opens the door for 22-year-old prospect Philippe Myers, who has played just one NHL game — his debut last weekend. It marks a huge opportunity for Myers to prove himself to the coaching staff and general manager Chuck Fletcher.

"Phil Myers can help this team win right now, too," Fletcher said Feb. 9.

"He's still a young man and really, his key time will be next year at training camp and earning a full-time spot for a full season. But right now, if we can get him some experience, practice seems great, being around the team is great, if he can get some games, that'll only help him as he prepares for next year."

The Flyers entered Wednesday six points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot with 22 games remaining. Two teams they're chasing in the playoff hunt are the Canadiens and Penguins, both of whom have 71 points compared to the Flyers' 63.

Meanwhile, Gudas wasn't the Flyers' only defenseman in trouble Wednesday. Robert Hagg was fined $3,091.40 for interference on Cedric Paquette during Tuesday's game.

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Scott Hartnell, other fan favorites highlight Flyers alumni game for 2019 Stadium Series weekend

Scott Hartnell, other fan favorites highlight Flyers alumni game for 2019 Stadium Series weekend

What makes the Stadium Series that much more fun is how it brings the families and alumni together for the weekend.

The Flyers' alumni showdown for this year's event should be plenty of fun.

On Wednesday, the roster was announced for the game, which will be held Friday at 7 p.m. on Penn's campus at the Class of '23 Arena. 

Many fan favorites will suit up, including Scott Hartnell, who has been a busy man since retiring in October. Hartnell was honored by the Flyers in December and was officially named an on-air analyst Wednesday for the NHL Network.

Here are the former Flyers that will play Friday against alumni from the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation.

Forwards

• Riley Cote, Brian Propp, Danny Briere, Todd Fedoruk, Scott Hartnell, Mitch Lamoureux, Dave Brown

Defensemen

• Brad Marsh, Joe Watson, Terry Carkner, Doug Crossman, Kjell Samuelsson, Jim Watson, Nick Schultz, Kimmo Timonen

Goaltender

• Brian Boucher

Paul Holmgren, Bob Kelly and Bill Barber are set to coach the team, while Bernie Parent, Dave Schultz, Bill Clement and Reggie Leach will be in attendance.

For fans interested in attending the game, tickets can be purchased right here.

Meanwhile, the current Flyers will also hit the ice Friday for a 6 p.m. practice at Lincoln Financial Field in preparation for Saturday's 8 p.m. game against the Penguins.

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