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March 26, 2017 | 11:50am ET
Sutter on thin ice in Los Angeles
TheFourthPeriod.com

The Los Angeles Kings sit nine points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference with eight games remaining and appear set on missing the playoffs for the second-time in the last three seasons.

It is no secret the team has struggled to score consistently these last few seasons -- and even during their Stanley Cup runs in 2012 and 2014 they weren't the most offensive group -- but a failure to adjust offensively has raised many eyebrows.

The Kings tried to trade winger Marian Gaborik this season, but came up empty. Gaborik's large contract and visibly lackluster play this season had kept buyers distant.

Gaborik, 35, has four-years left on his contract that comes with a $4.875 million salary cap hit.

But moving Gaborik -- failing to trade him could result in a buyout -- is something the Kings will focus on this off-season.

A more pressing matter appears to revolve around the future of head coach Darryl Sutter.

Multiple league sources told TFP the Kings contemplated a change behind the bench earlier this season in February, but stuck behind him. Those same sources have now indicated a move could come after the regular-season.

Sutter has one-year left on his contract, plus an option for a third-year, though the expectation is he will be let go at some point after this season.

The Kings have just 22 regulation wins this season, with 10 more coming in overtime and three in shootouts, and they're 25th in the NHL in goals-for per game (2.41).

They remained in the playoff race thanks in large part to the goaltending performance of Peter Budaj, whom the club moved to Tampa Bay for Ben Bishop last month, and the offensive performance of star forward Jeff Carter, who has just two goals in his last 19 games.

But Sutter's failure to adjust his system offensively could be a major reason for his termination this off-season.

There is also the ongoing speculation over Sutter butting heads with multiple Kings players, which may have resulted in him "losing this room," one league source suggested.

In five and a half seasons behind the Kings' bench, Sutter has posted a 221-144-52 record, to date, and helped guide the Kings to a Stanley Cup championship in 2012 and 2014.

Sutter has only missed the playoffs twice -- soon to be three times -- in 17 seasons as an NHL head coach with the Chicago Blackhkawks, San Jose Sharks, Calgary Flames and Kings. He was fired mid-season by the Sharks in 2002-03 and joined the Flames shortly after that same season.

 
 
 

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