Kings assistant Marco Sturm named Ontario Reign head coach

The Kings have named Marco Sturm as head coach of the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League, the team announced Friday.

The position had been vacated after John Wroblewski took a leave of absence before tendering his resignation after last season and assuming control of the U.S. women’s national team. The rest of the coaching staff for the Kings’ top minor-league affiliate – Chris Hajt, Craig Johnson, Matt Millar and Brad Schuler – is expected to remain in place under Sturm.

Last season, the Reign posted a 41-18-5-4 record and reached the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs, where they were swept by the Colorado Eagles.

Sturm had served as an assistant coach for the Kings since November 2018, joining Trent Yawney as a top assistant to Todd McLellan for the past three seasons.

While dropping from the NHL to the AHL may appear to signify a demotion, the opportunity to guide a top minor-league team has often been a stepping stone toward head-coaching success at the top level. For instance, both coaches in the Stanley Cup Final, Colorado’s Jared Bednar and Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper, leapt directly from AHL gigs to their first NHL head-coaching jobs, and with famous results.

Sturm’s NHL coaching experience was preceded by his guidance of his native Germany’s national team, which flourished under his tenure. Not only did the Germans stun the field by capturing silver at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but individual stars such as Leon Draisaitl, Tim Stutzle and Moritz Seider have cut their teeth within their national program. Those advances have ushered in a potential golden generation that may surpass the accomplishments of Sturm, who competed in three Olympics with 44 total appearances for Germany, and his longtime national team cohorts like Olaf Kolzig and Jochen Hecht.

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As a player, Sturm was a lottery pick by former Kings and Sharks GM Dean Lomardi, and developed into an all-star winger with San Jose. He was later dealt to Boston, where he excelled but never fully shook the expectations of being a centerpiece in the trade that sent former Bruins franchise player Joe Thornton westward. In the late stages of his career, Sturm and Lombardi reconnected. Sturm had an ephemeral stint with the Kings in 2010-11, notching nine points in 17 games before moving onto Washington.