While the entire NHL fan base and half the teams in the league focus on the Stanley Cup playoffs, teams elsewhere have quickly started to prepare for the future. The Dallas Stars changed their coach after failing to make the playoffs, while Las Vegas finally unveiled who will lead them in their inaugural season and the LA Kings made significant front office moves after their disappointing season.
Beginning with the Dallas Stars, signing head coach Ken Hitchcock seems to be quite a popular move. Hitchcock knows what it takes to win in the NHL and with an abundance of star players on the team, it made sense for the team to sign an experienced leader to mold them together. Hitchcock made a big impression in his first stint with the Stars and in all likelihood, management instructed him to simply go and recreate his previous success. Hitchcock won a Stanley Cup with the club in 1999, along with a losing finals appearance a year later and claiming five division titles. His win total of 277 games is still the highest in franchise history and it will be fascinating to see what he can do in his second spell with the organization.
Elsewhere in Las Vegas, the Golden Knights have finally revealed that Gerard Gallant will be their head coach for the upcoming season. He has a high-pressure job, being involved in the expansion draft and everything else that goes with coaching an expansion team. All eyes will be on Gallant, but he should have plenty of backing as many folks want to see the Las Vegas franchise be a success. Gallant was fired from the Florida Panthers in November, just a year after winning the Atlantic Division with them, setting franchise records for points and wins, and being a finalist for the Jack Adams trophy. For whatever reason Gallant struggled to get the Panthers firing this year but if he can work his magic and create a team that will buy into his system then this is a very shrewd signing for the Golden Knights.
Lastly the LA Kings have also been busy after missing out on the playoffs as they have made changes to their front office. Luc Robitaille has been made team president, there to look after all hockey and business operations. Rob Blake will be his assistant as vice president and also assumes the role of General Manager. Blake will have a more hands-on role and will run the club day to day. With these moves, Dean Lombardi leaves the organization after spending 11 years with the club, as does head coach Darryl Sutter who has been in charge since 2011. These are important moves for the Kings as they try to change the framework of their organization going forward. The moves mean that former fan favorites Luc Robitaille and Rob Blake hold important positons and the future of this club is on their shoulders. Exciting times for the Kings fans out there.