The LA Kings have announced several updates regarding their hockey operations staff. The top two moves are the promotion of Nelson Emerson to Assistant General Manager and the promotion of Glen Murray to Senior Director of Player Personnel. Emerson and Murray are longtime Kings front office executives who were both key right-hand men when general manager Rob Blake was conducting his rebuild in recent seasons.
In addition, Derek Johnson is taking on a new role within the coaching staff, going from video side assistant to skills coach. Johnson has worked with Samson Lee over the past few seasons, but he’s been playing a bigger role on the ice lately. The Kings didn’t have an official skills coach under Todd McLellan, but Johnson is someone who took on senior roles last season, especially as staff members were affected by COVID, and has worked with several players on the ice this season.
The LA Kings have promoted Nelson Emerson to Director of Player Personnel and Glen Murray to Director of Player Development, and have named Richard Seeley as General Manager of the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League, Kings Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake announced today.
In addition, the Kings announced several other changes to the club’s Hockey Operations department:
Craig Johnson has joined the Kings Development Department — with an emphasis on skating
Jaroslav Modry has officially been named as Reign Assistant Coach after filling a similar (part-time) role this past season
Hubie McDonough now works exclusively in a scouting role with the Kings after most recently serving as Ontario’s Director of Hockey Operations
Blake also confirmed his own contract extension as general manager for the first time publically in his season-opening media availability. First reported by Kings Of The Podcast, the extension has been in place for quite some time, with Blake confirming that it officially came together shortly after last season concluded.
“It was done, basically done over the summer,” he said. “There was never really an official announcement, just because we didn’t feel we needed to on that aspect, but yes, that was taken care of there, probably immediately after the season was over.”
Emerson has spent the last 15 seasons in the Kings organization, most recently as Director of Player Personnel from 2017-18 to 2021-22. Before that he spent the last 10 seasons in the player development department. He was originally called to the coaching staff on July 10, 2006 and spent the two seasons as an assistant coach, having served as coaches aide in 2003-04. A Hamilton, Ontario native, he appeared in 771 career games, including 124 with the Kings from 2000–02, and averaged 488 points (195–293). Originally selected by the St. Louis Blues in the third round (44th overall) of the 1985 NHL Entry Draft, the forward also had 22 points (7-15=22) in 40 playoff games. While at Bowling Green State University of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA), Emerson was a two-time All-American, three-time CCHA All-Star, and three-time Hobey Baker Award finalist (1988-90). . He remains the school’s all-time top scorer with 294 points.
Murray has held several roles in the player development department since 2016, most recently as director of player development since 2018. The former Kings forward joined the front office on a part-time basis during the club’s first Stanley Cup championship season in 2011–12. After more than four seasons as a consultant, he officially joined the player development department in 2016. A native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Murray played 16 seasons in the NHL, including his tenure with the Kings from 1996 to 2002. He played in 1,009 regular-season games and scored 651 points (337-314=651) with Los Angeles, Boston and Pittsburgh. A two-time All-Star, Murray had a career-high 44 goals, 48 assists and 92 points in 82 games in 2002-03. He scored up to 28 goals five separate times in a season, including 29 goals as a team-best with the Kings in the 1997-98 season. His 41 goals in the 2001-02 season were the second-highest in the NHL.
Johnson joined the Kings in 2018 and has spent the last four seasons as an assistant video coach while working with players on the ice after morning skates and filling in for a few games on the bench last season. Prior to that, he was a video coach for the Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League during the 2017-18 season. Johnson was a defenseman at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and had 17 points (2-15=17) in 108 games over four seasons. He then played professionally for three seasons, scoring 29 points (8-21=29) in 129 ECHL games (Missouri Mavericks and Reading Royals) from 2014-2017. He made his AHL debut in 2015-16 running in four games with the Springfield Falcons.
Johnson joins the Kings after spending the last five seasons as general manager and director of scouting for the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers. Last season, Johnson led Sioux City to their first Clark Cup championship in two decades and was named USHL General Manager of the Year. Johnson’s career has spanned nine seasons, all in the USHL, where he has held positions in various capacities including scout, director of scouting, assistant general manager and general manager split between Sioux City (2017-22), the Waterloo Black Hawks ( 2014-17) and Muskegon Lumberjacks (2013-14).
Hickmann brings over 20 years of sports psychology experience to the Kings while also serving as the team psychologist and director of mental health and wellness for the Los Angeles Clippers. Prior to her time with the Clippers, Dr. Hickmann held similar positions with the Brooklyn Nets (2010-14) and the New York Jets (2009-2014). She worked for the NFL League Office as Director of Player Assistance Programs (2004-2009) and led the clinical side for the NFL’s Personal Conduct Program (2006-2022). Her other professional experience includes working as an embedded psychologist with Naval Special Warfare/Navy SEALS in Coronado, CA and creating a cognitive agility training course for Special Operations Central Command in Tampa, FL. dr Hickmann earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2004.
Bennett begins his first season in professional hockey as a data engineer for the Kings. For the past three years he has been a data engineer and analyst for Team Select Home Care. Bennett earned his bachelor’s degree in business informatics and analytics from the University of Denver in 2019.
Cooney spent last season as Director of Communications and Broadcasting with the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League. Prior to his stint there, he was with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League for more than seven seasons, where he served in a variety of roles including director of partnerships, marketing and media relations. Cooney has also worked with the Pittsburgh Penguins Radio Network.
Last season, Cummings was communications assistant for the Pittsburgh Penguins. His other experience includes the Manchester Monarchs (2017-19), the Boston Bruins (2019-20) and USA Hockey’s NTDP (2020-21). While attending the University of New Hampshire, he served as communications assistant for the Monarchs.
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