The Los Angeles Kings have fired coach Todd McClellan amid a decline in the standings

The Los Angeles Kings fired coach Todd McClellan on Friday and appointed Jim Heller as interim coach until the end of the season.

“We want to thank Todd for his hard work and dedication to the organization,” Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake said in a statement.

“He has done a tremendous job of moving us forward and making a positive impact on our group and in our community. This was not an easy decision, but we felt a change was necessary at this time. Jim is a well-respected member of our team and is familiar with our players. We are confident in his ability to effectively lead our team during this pivotal period.”

Los Angeles entered the All-Star break with the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, but just four points out of a playoff spot.

The Kings started the season 20-7-4, with 44 points tied for the most in team history after 31 games. Since December 28, they have gone 3-8-6. The three wins are tied for the fewest in the league in that period and 12 points tied for fifth-worst.

McClellan looked comfortable after the Kings entered the first half of their 4-2 win over Nashville on Wednesday.

“We still have a long way to go to get our performance back, but going into the break feeling good about ourselves is really good,” he said after the match.

Dismissal of the sixth coach

One of the main reasons behind the Kings’ recent slump is the lack of offense. They are averaging just 2.35 goals per game in their last 17 matches, third-worst in the league.

McClellan was in his fifth season behind the Kings’ bench. He led them to the Stanley Cup playoffs the past two seasons before being eliminated by Edmonton in the first round. On October 31, he became the eighth coach in franchise history to win 100 games and the fifth-fastest to do so (219 games).

He has a career mark of 598-412-134 with 598 regular season wins which ranks 23rd in NHL history. Before coaching Los Angeles, McClellan spent five seasons with Edmonton and seven in San Jose.

Heller, who was selected in the 10th round by the Kings in the 1989 draft, was an assistant with the team the past two seasons after eight seasons as an assistant with the New York Islanders, Toronto and Detroit. Prior to his NHL coaching career, Hiller spent 12 seasons in the Western Hockey League and British Columbia Hockey League, including five years as head coach with the Tri-City Americans.

MacLellan is the sixth coach fired this season, following Edmonton’s Jay Woodcroft, Minnesota’s Dean Evason, St. Louis’ Craig Berube, Ottawa’s DJ Smith and the Islanders’ Len Lambert. Mike Babcock resigned from Columbus on the eve of training camp after an investigation into his practice of asking to see photos on players’ phones.

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