Report: Kings to name John Stevens head coach

Report: Kings to name John Stevens head coach

A person with direct knowledge of the situation tells The Associated Press that the Los Angeles Kings will name associate head coach John Stevens their next head coach.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because an announcement had not been made.

Stevens replaces Darryl Sutter after serving as a Kings assistant and then associate coach for the past eight seasons, which included two Stanley Cups. He was interim head coach for four games in 2011-12 after Terry Murray was fired and before Sutter was hired.

The 50-year-old was long considered Sutter's eventual replacement, though the firing of general manager Dean Lombardi and Sutter earlier this month put everything into question. When assistant Davis Payne was fired, the door was open to promoting Stevens.

Stevens' Flyers ties run deep.

He was drafted by the Flyers with the 47th pick in the 1984 draft and played nine NHL games with them from 1986-88. He came back to the organization in 1996 to play for the AHL's Phantoms for three seasons, including captaining the 1998 Calder Cup title team, before retiring in 1999.

Stevens moved behind the Phantoms bench in 1999 as an assistant before he took the reins as their head coach in 2000. Stevens was the coach of the star-studded 2004-2005 Phantoms led by Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Patrick Sharp that won the Calder Cup.

Stevens then caught his first NHL head coaching break in 2006 when Ken Hitchcock was fired and the Flyers promoted Stevens from Lehigh Valley to become head coach of the big club. He went 120-109-34 in three-plus seasons as the Flyers head coach, a tenure that included a run to the 2008 Eastern Conference Final a year after the Flyers were the worst team in the league. Stevens was fired by the Flyers in December 2009 after a poor start and replaced by Peter Laviolette, who helped lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Final that year.

ESPN first reported the Stevens' hiring by Los Angeles.

- contributed to this story.

With Philly ties, Joel Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

With Philly ties, Joel Farabee can't wait to help Flyers

DALLAS — In his four years as general manager, Ron Hextall has shown a preference to take the center with the versatility to play the wing.

However, Friday night in Dallas, Hextall went against the grain by selecting left wing Joel Farabee 14th overall, the highest winger Hextall has selected now in his fifth draft as Flyers general manager.

“When we look in the first round, we want hockey players,” Hextall said. “We want hockey sense and we want character. We want good hockey players and if you don’t draft them in the first round, you won’t find them. Philosophically, that’s the way we approach things.”

It’s the way Farabee envisioned this draft playing out all along from a father who grew up in Warminster in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

“Actually, I’m not going to lie, when I came to the draft, I wanted to go 14 to Philly. I think that’s pretty cool that happened,” Farabee said. “I really liked their interviews. I talked to them a couple of times. My dad is actually from Philly so I grew up watching the Flyers. It’s just awesome. I’m a really big Phillies fan. I don’t have any words for it right now. It’s really cool to be part of a great organization.”

Farabee is considered a gifted goal scorer from the wing position, which the Flyers are lacking organizationally, having racked up 31 goals in 58 games with the USNTDP. He's the first player the Flyers drafted from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program since James van Riemsdyk second overall in 2007.

He’s been compared to Boston’s Brad Marchand and Minnesota’s Zach Parise, which also suggests he plays with a very high motor and a good deal of intensity.

Farabee sees more of a comparison with Pittsburgh’s undersized forward Jake Guentzel.

“I think hockey IQ, playmaking ability along with two-way (play) is something I pride myself on,” Farabee said. “I definitely like scoring goals, but I definitely hate getting scored against. It’s kind of my motto.”

“He’s a real attention-to-detail player,” Hextall said. “He’s got speed. He’s got skill. He can score. He’s a good player and he has size in his family so I still think there’s a chance he can grow.”

If there’s a question mark surrounding Farabee, it's a slight frame, where he’s currently listed at 6-foot and 168 pounds. It's further proof the Flyers no longer feel the need to draft big and bulky to play along the boards and dig pucks out of the corners in today’s NHL.

“I think I’m pretty light so I definitely need to put on some weight in college,” Farabee said. “With that, just work on playing down low. I think that will help me.”

Can Farabee follow a timeline similar to that of "JVR," who spent two seasons at the University of New Hampshire before joining the Flyers in 2009-10?

“I think it’s hard to say right now,” Farabee said. “It’s kind of what the organization wants me to do. Hopefully, after one, but two years of college may be really good for me just because I’m a lighter guy. Two years is a good timetable.”

More on the Flyers

By drafting Jay O'Brien, Ron Hextall shows he's 'never one to be safe'

• Flyers need to find needle in haystack on Day 2

• Was Couturier snubbed for Selke Trophy?

• Giroux's final Hart Trophy voting should hurt

By drafting Jay O'Brien, Ron Hextall shows he's 'never been one to be safe'

By drafting Jay O'Brien, Ron Hextall shows he's 'never been one to be safe'

DALLAS — Having already selected a forward at No. 14, many believed Ron Hextall would utilize the 19th overall pick for a defenseman to solidify the Flyers' first round at both positions.

Instead, Hextall took a chance and decided that the safe pick was not the way to go.

“I’ve never been one to be safe. I don’t think it’s a good philosophy,” Hextall said after the Flyers drafted Jay O'Brien 19th overall (see story). “I don’t think you can be successful that way.” 

To the surprise of many, O’Brien was the Flyers' next guy up on the list, a center from Thayer Academy in Hingham, Massachusetts, that many scouting experts had ranked outside the top-30. The Hockey News even had O’Brien listed at No. 61 and there was little expectation O’Brien would go off the board in the first round. 

So did Hextall reach too high for a player that may have been available in the second round?

“There is risk when you take a kid out of that level,” Hextall said. “If you want to say there’s a concern, he has not played at a high level. So people call that a risky pick because he hasn’t played at a high level. Quite honestly, it’s a tough evaluation no doubt about it, but I feel confident in our scouts. They do a great job and we felt very strong about it.”

Having expressed a desire to add another highly-rated defenseman, Hextall chose to pass up on USNTDP defenseman K’Andre Miller, who the Rangers traded up to No. 22 to pick, and Mattias Samuelsson, the son of Kjell Samuelsson, who was not chosen in the first round.

O’Brien’s numbers from his senior season at Thayer Academy jump off the page, scoring 43 goals and 80 points in just 30 games, but again, the level of competition has to be taken into consideration.

“It doesn’t matter to me,” O’Brien said. “I play the same everywhere I go. I think after playing with the U.S. team and some USHL games and some college games, that’s why I got picked where I got picked. Not just because I played prep school and I know it’s hard for teams to compare and contrast to the OHL to the Q to the USHL. It’s tough.”

O’Brien, who’s committed to play at Providence College next season, had a strong feeling about the Flyers, who spent more time scouting him than other NHL teams.

“I had a great, great meeting with Philly and it was the place I wanted to go,” O’Brien said. “It was a place I wanted to play, such a storied franchise and I couldn’t be happier.” 

Perhaps the Flyers' GM felt he could take a risk having already selected Joel Farabee five picks earlier, but under Hextall’s direction, there’s a trust factor within the scouting department and the pre-draft rankings and the Flyers clearly didn’t want to deviate from that.  

“He just has the traits of a hockey player,” Hextall said of O’Brien. “Just his timing of passes, when to shoot, when to pass. He’s a really smart hockey player. He’s competitive. He’s strong. He’s got a little agitator in him. He’s a really good hockey player.”

Right now, there are 31 NHL GMs who love their picks. 

Give it four or five more years and we’ll see if that love affair has rubbed off.

More on the Flyers

Flyers draft Joel Farabee for 1st in Hextall's tenure as GM

• Flyers need to find needle in haystack on Day 2

• Was Couturier snubbed for Selke Trophy?

• Giroux's final Hart Trophy voting should hurt