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Bill Ranford Survives

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The Los Angeles Kings hired Mark Hardy as an assistant coach Monday and promoted both Jamie Kompon and Nelson Emerson to assistant coaches.

Hardy, 49, joins Kompon, Emerson and goalie coach Bill Ranford on new head coach Terry Murray's staff.

The Kings also announced that assistant coaches Mike Johnston and Dave Lewis won't be back behind the bench this season. Johnston has been offered another position with the NHL club.

Tough times to be a coach in Los Angeles.

Dave Lewis, after thirteen seasons as an assistant coach with the Red Wings, was tabbed to replace Scotty Bowman. He lasted two seasons before being fired, lasted one season as the head coach in Boston, and has been fired yet again, although in all fairness I think this has more to do with letting the new coach pick his assistants than with Lewis' performance on Crawford's staff.

Mike Johnston has been a Crawford man since joining him as an assistant coach in Vancouver in 1999-2000. If Crawford is chosen as coach of the New York Islanders (Islanders GM Garth Snow played for Crawford in Vancouver), I imagine that Johnston would join him there. If not, he was regarded highly enough to be part of the coaching staff at this summer's World Championships (over Crawford), so maybe he'll land on his feet.

Ex-ECHL'er Jamie Kompon was a part of Crawford's staff, and after spending years as a video coach and conditioning coach in both L.A. and St. Louis will get a chance as an assistant. Like Johnston, he has experience with Hockey Canada, joining the World Championship team in Latvia in 2006.

Nelson Emerson has had a nice NHL career, and basically joined the Kings organization after his retirement, while Mark Hardy also had a very nice NHL run, and makes the curious jump from emerging Chicago to still-demolishing-for-a-rebuild Los Angeles.

Anyways, the real point of this thread is Ranford, who was the highest profile survivor from Marc Crawford's staff to work under new coach Terry Murray. I think it makes sense that Ranford continues on; one of the most popular misconceptions in hockey is that Los Angeles has sub-par goaltending. Jason Labarbera, who has put up .930+ SV% in the AHL the last three seasons he played there had a 3.00 GAA and .910 SV% last season with a brutal Los Angeles team, and continues to look like a legitimate NHL starter (far more so than, say, Nikolai Khabibulin). If Dean Lombardi is foolish enough to let him go, the Oilers would be well advised to pursue him.

Lombardi belongs to the school of thought that an NHL team should develop it's own netminders, and QMJHL star Jonathan Bernier seems likely at this point to be the Kings future goaltender. This won't happen without massive improvement, however; despite his overstated reputation, Bernier's save percentage since entering the Q looks like this, season-to-season: .909, .908, .905, .908 (by way of contrast, Jeff Deslaurier's numbers were: .900, .888, .916). Also in the system are Erik Ersberg, Jonathan Quick and Danny Taylor, but none of them look like a long-term solution (particularly Ersberg, who performed well enough in limited NHL duty that some Kings fans are projecting him to challenge Labarbera. His .897 SV% in the AHL last season says he won't, though).

Ranford has some experience working with high-profile goalies; his last job was goaltending coach for the Vancouver Giants, where he coached Marek Schwarz. This is omething of a black mark- last season Schwarz looked dedicated to proving that Kevin Lowe's staff was right to go against conventional wisdom and select Devan Dubnyk ahead of him. Tyson Sexsmith, however, progressed nicely and was a third round pick of the Sharks in 2007.

The real test will be Bernier's progression; if he evolves into a top-calibre NHL goaltender, Ranford shouldn't have any worries about long-term job security. It's just nice to see guys like Ranford getting a chance in NHL organizations other than Edmonton.