Photo credit:© Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Kings fire McLellan, NHL heading to the Olympics, and the Jets trade for Sean Monahan
19 days ago
Welcome back to Around the League — the series here at CanucksArmy where we analyze news and notes from around the National Hockey League, oftentimes through a Vancouver Canucks-tinted lens.
It’s All-Star week, but it may as well be the March 8th trade deadline already. Thanks for that, Mr. Rutherford. Let’s dive into today’s top stories!
LA Kings fire Todd McLellan
Pierre-Luc Dubois the Los Angeles Kings fired head coach Todd McLellan. The firing isn’t all that surprising, as after a hot start to the season that had many people changing their Cup favourite pick to the Kings, LA just wrapped up a disastrous month of January that saw them fall out of the race for top spot in the Pacific Division.
Not only were the Kings tabbed as favourites to win the Division and then some, the club’s monstrous start to the season had McLellan as one of the early favourites to win the Jack Adams Award as the league’s best coach.
And now, he’s out of a job.
“This was not an easy decision,” said Kings GM Rob Blake. “We felt the change was necessary at this time.”
The Kings have appointed Jim Hiller, the assistant coach, as McLellan’s interim replacement for the rest of the season. Hiller, currently in his second season with L.A., previously served as an assistant to Barry Trotz with the New York Islanders and worked with Mike Babcock in Detroit and Toronto.
The Kings’ 3-7-5 record in the month of January, coupled with the Oilers’ 16 game win streak, has effectively taken LA out of the Pacific Division race, a race the Canucks currently lead. Barring a big turnaround, the Kings will likely have to settle for a Wild Card spot if they are to make the playoffs.
Jets trade for Sean Monahan
We said thank you Mr. Rutherford a bit sarcastically in the opening line, and that’s because the Canucks aggressively going after Elias Lindholm over a month before the trade deadline has resulted in other teams stepping up to the plate.
But Canucks fans may be sincerely thanking Rutherford when they see what the Winnipeg Jets — who were reportedly interested in Lindholm — had to give up to acquire Sean Monahan, a centre with less defensive acumen and less offensive upside than Lindholm.
We wrote yesterday about why selling high on an overachieving prospect in Hunter Brzustewicz was good process for the Canucks, and obviously getting out from the Andrei Kuzmenko contract — freeing up $5.5 million for next season — was also important for Vancouver to do too. If you thought the Canucks’ trade for Lindholm was an overpayment, surely seeing what Winnipeg has had to settle for changes your mind, right?
What a nice change of pace for Canucks fans. Their management group is out here setting the trade market and getting their work done early.
No more “running out of time” in Vancouver.
NHL heading to the olympics
Our final piece of news is great for hockey fans everywhere.
Today, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced that NHL players will be participating in both the 2026 and 2030 Winter Olympics.
The Olympics haven’t had NHL representation since 2014, when Canada defeated Team Sweden in the gold medal game in Sochi, Russia.
Additionally, the NHL announced its own international tournament taking place in 2025, featuring four nations: Canada, USA, Sweden, and Finland. The tournament will be hosted in Montreal and Boston. The tournament will officially be called the 4 Nations Face-Off, and Bettman added that the league and NHLPA’s “intention” is to have full World Cup of Hockey tournaments in 2028 and 2032.
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