The LA Kings minor league affiliate, the Ontario Reign, announced their new head coach on Monday. And he already has coached prospect Alex Turcotte.
When the LA Kings minor league outfit, Ontario Reign, parted with long-time coach Mike Stothers, it came as a surprise to many. Stothers spent five seasons with the Reign and one with the Manchester Monarchs the year prior, compiling a 220-137 record between both clubs while leading the Monarchs to the Calder Cup in their final season.
The tide began to shift on Stothers, going from 50 wins with the Monarchs to a COVID-19 shortened 29 wins this past season. His contract was set to expire in June, and the Kings decided it was best to move on from the 58-year-old. But the future remained uncertain as to who was going to lead the organization’s talented prospect pool.
On Monday, the club announced that they hired John Wroblewski, who had previously served as the head coach of the U.S. National Team Development Program, based in the Detroit suburb of Plymouth. After playing his college hockey at the University of Notre Dame and a brief stint in the ECHL with the Fresno Falcons, Wroblewski transitioned into a coaching role.
Beginning in the 2007-2008 season, he was an assistant coach for the USNT and bounced around to the same position for the Wheeling Nailers and Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL, and the Rochester American of the AHL, before landing his first head coaching gig with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL.
The following year, he became the head coach of the USNT. Wroblewski had seen all kinds of elite talent come through, including New Jersey Devils number one pick a year ago in Jack Huges. And to Kings’ fans delight, he also coached Alex Turcotte, who was taken fifth overall in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Turcotte played 39 games with the U17 team in the 2017-2018 season, scoring 15 goals with 32 assists for 47 points, and then playing in 19 games with the U18 team, scoring three goals with 13 assists for 16 points.
Hughes gained national notoriety playing under Wroblewski, serving as the U17 team captain that rostered Turcotte. The Devils forward tallied 40 goals with 76 assists playing for both the U17 and U18 clubs before launching into the consensus number one overall pick.
Having that kind of coach who can implement development on the Kings’ talented prospect pool is vital, especially as they graduate to the NHL level with the expectation of helping Todd McLellan’s group get back to the Stanley Cup Finals. And with the latter already being 52 years old, could the 39-year-old Wroblewski eventually replace him at the NHL level?
That would seem plausible and would allow him to have hands-on coaching with these players all the way through. The franchise absolutely nailed this hire because Wroblewski will be able to develop these kids into potential superstars. Turcotte is expected to join Ontario when the AHL season begins in early December.
It’s an all-around good day for the Kings organization.