Jim Hiller [1296x729]
Jim Hiller [1296x729] (Credit: Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Baker NCAA settlement adds pressure certainty

The Los Angeles Kings removed the interim tag and named Jim Hiller as the club's 30th head coach Wednesday.

ESPN's Kevin Weekes reported that Hiller agreed to a multiyear contract.

The Kings fired Todd McLellan on Feb. 2 and tabbed Hiller as the team's interim head coach. Under Hiller, the Kings finished the regular season on a 21-12-1 run before falling in five games to the Edmonton Oilers in their Western Conference first-round playoff series.

Los Angeles was 23-15-10 under McLellan this season.

Hiller, 55, joined the Kings in July 2022 after stints as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings (2014-15), Toronto Maple Leafs (2015-2019) and New York Islanders (2019-2022).

Los Angeles has reached the playoffs four times during general manager Rob Blake's tenure but failed to advance past the first round. The Kings have not won a playoff series since winning their second Stanley Cup in three years in 2014.

Prospects for a breakthrough in a tough Pacific Division appear difficult.

Team captain Anze Kopitar will turn 37 in August, and defenseman Drew Doughty will be 35 in December.

Los Angeles doesn't have many prospects at its minor league affiliate in Ontario, California, and has cap issues. David Rittich is the Kings' only goaltender under contract for next season.

Hiller also has to find a way to get Pierre-Luc Dubois on track. The Kings acquired Dubois from the Winnipeg Jets and signed him to an eight-year, $68 million contract last season. The center didn't have any chemistry with anyone on the team and had career lows for a full season in goals (16) and points (40).

During the Edmonton series, Dubois was often on the fourth line.

As a player, Hiller recorded 20 points (8 goals, 12 assists) and 116 penalty minutes in 63 career games with the Kings, Red Wings and New York Rangers. He was selected by the Kings in the 10th round of the 1989 NHL draft and was the 18th coach in NHL history to make his head-coaching debut with the team that originally drafted them.

The Associated Press and Field Level Media contributed to this report.