When the New York Islanders hired Lane Lambert as the new voice behind the bench, it wasn't long before Jim Hiller and John Gruden were relieved of their duties as well giving Lambert the opportunity to hire his own coaching staff. On Tuesday, July 5th, Lambert chose his henchman, and the Islanders named Doug Houda and Brian Wiseman as his new assistant coaches. It didn't take very long for Hiller and Gruden to find new jobs in the NHL after helping Barry Trotz sustain success with the Islanders for the better part of three seasons.
John Hoven, better known as @MayorNHL on Twitter, reported on July 11th that the LA Kings were wrapping up negotiations with Hiller to become an assistant coach to Todd McLellan. There's a connection there dating back to the days when Hiller and McLellan both coached on the same staff for the Detroit Red Wings when Mike Babcock was their head coach from 2005-2008.
The Kings made the Hiller signing official when they announced he was coming on staff on July 19th. What the Kings are looking for in Hiller is his ability to improve a power play. Last season, the Kings scored on the man advantage at a measly 16.1% conversion rate. The evidence is in the Islanders' power play that Hiller was in charge of for the last three seasons. The Isles improved from 2020-21's 17.3% conversion rate to 22.1% last season.
The head coaching carousel presented opportunity for Gruden as well. The Boston Bruins hired Jim Montgomery as their new head coach after Bruce Cassidy was relieved of his duties - however Cassidy quickly landed on his feet with the Vegas Golden Knights. Montgomery was given the opportunity to add to his staff with much of Cassidy's regime still intact, but Gruden is brought on board as a beneficiary of some tweaks in Boston.
The former defenseman coached behind the Islanders bench for the last four seasons as an assistant and was one of the reasons Noah Dobson began to blossom into the budding star he emerged as last season. Now, Gruden will help manage a deep blue line in Boston that plays a similar style as Trotz's defensive structure. Gruden will have to wait to work with a number of defensemen including Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk who is expected to be out until December 1st and November 1st respectively. Mike Reilly is also injured but is listed as probable to start the season.