Canucks interested in Kings’ assistant John Stevens

By Tom Dougherty (@todougherty)

John Stevens may be in line for another head coaching gig.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Canucks are interested in the Kings’ assistant coach for their vacant head coach position. Stevens has coaching experience at both the AHL and NHL level.

The Canucks might be interested in Stevens for a few reasons, The Province’s Jason Botchford said. One is because he’s an experience candidate who has a strong reputation with working with defensemen and young players like playing for him.

Much of Drew Doughty’s development has been credited to Stevens. Since working with the 47-year-old, Doughty’s game has honed his defensive game. He was already established as a strong offensive defenseman, but has since matured into a top-flight defender as well.

Stevens has also been credited for working with Slava Voynov and Jake Muzzin, a 24-year-old blue liner that has flourished with the Kings. As Botchford points out, Voynov was made a healthy scratch when Stevens took over as interim coach last year.

Before being benched, Voynov was playing about 18 minutes per game for L.A. Since, Voynov has taken off as a player and it was the push from Stevens that may have helped with the development.

Botchford also gave Stevens credit for Muzzin’s success in his rookie season. A former fifth-round pick by the Penguins, Muzzin signed as a free agent with the Kings and tallied 16 points with the Kings this season.

Stevens could help the Canucks’ defense grow more. While Botchford singled out Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, 23, could be a guy that takes off if Stevens were made coach.

Stevens served as the Flyers head coach from 2006-2010 and coached four games for the Kings last year after Los Angeles dismissed Terry Murray. From 2000-01 to 05-06, Stevens coached the Philadelphia Phantoms.

The holdup with Stevens is that the Kings are still in the playoffs. Interviewing or hiring Stevens would have to wait until the Kings are out of the playoffs, which might not be until the Stanley Cup as L.A. is very much in the running to repeat.

After being out of a head-coaching job for three years, Stevens deserves another go-around. He did a good job with the Flyers, has helped the Kings’ defense and has won at every level.

He won the Calder Cup with the Phantoms, and the Stanley Cup last year as the assistant coach.

Canucks GM Mike Gillis has said that he wants the Canucks to be more defensively sound and score goals.

John Stevens is a head coach that can produce that type of game.

Stevens’ coaching record in the NHL is 122-111-34.

Contact Tom Dougherty at todougherty@gmail.com.

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About the Author: Tom Dougherty is a journalism student at Temple University, a web producer for CSNPhilly.com, and runs Flyers Focus (http://flyersfocus.net/). He loves coffee, hockey and Pearl Jam -- preferably at once.

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