Hiller Named LA Kings' Head Coach

Hiller (Photo by Axel Koester)

Northern Michigan University 1995 alumnus and NMU Sports Hall of Fame inductee Jim Hiller has been named head coach of the NHL's LA Kings—the team that originally drafted him. He had been elevated to interim head coach on Feb. 2, 2024, after serving as an assistant coach over the past two seasons.

Hiller joined the franchise to “primarily work with the forwards and focus on the power play,” according to a previous press release announcing his hire as assistant coach, after spending the previous eight seasons in a similar capacity with the New York Islanders (2019-22), Toronto Maple Leafs (2015-19) and Detroit Red Wings (2014-15). Since Hiller joined the Kings coaching staff, the team has scored 124 power-play goals, tied for the fifth-most in the league during that span, while the team's power-play percentage has averaged 24.0% to place seventh among all teams, according to an NHL.com story.

With the hire, Hiller returns to the organization that originally selected him in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. After being drafted by the Kings, the Port Alberni, British Columbia native attended NMU from 1989-1992. In his sophomore year, he helped the Wildcats secure their first and only NCAA National Championship, beating Boston University 8-7 in the 1990-91 season. 

Hiller was inducted into NMU's Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. At that time, he ranked third all time in career assists (129), sixth in career points (205) and eighth in career goals (76). 

The forward made his NHL debut with the Kings and recorded 12 points (6-6=12) in Los Angeles before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings. He went on to skate in 63 NHL games, tallying 20 points (8-12=20) for the Kings, Red Wings and New York Rangers. 

In addition to his NHL playing career, Hiller played two seasons in the American Hockey League with the Binghamton Rangers. He also played 20 games in the IHL with the Phoenix Roadrunners and Atlanta Knights. Hiller would then go on to skate six seasons internationally, including five seasons in Germany with the Starbulls Rosenheim and Berlin Capitals, as well as one season in Italy with the Milano Vipers.

Prior to his NHL coaching debut with Detroit, Hiller spent 12 seasons coaching junior hockey in Canada between the Western Hockey League (WHL) and British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL). Hiller began coaching in 2002 with the Tri-City Americans (WHL), where he spent two seasons before taking the helm behind the bench of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (BCHL) during the 2005-06 campaign. Hiller returned to the WHL the following year as head coach of the then-expansion Chilliwack Bruins, leading the Bruins to the playoffs in their first season.

Following three seasons with Chilliwack (2006-09), Hiller returned to Tri-City from 2009-14. During the first season of his second stint with Tri-City, Hiller led the Americans to a division title, conference title and WHL Championship Series appearance. In total, he coached Tri-City to two division titles (2009-10, 2011-12) and five consecutive playoff berths over his five seasons. He was awarded the CHL's Brian Kilrea Award and WHL's Dunc McCallum Award for Coach of the Year for 2011-12, leading Tri-City to a 50-18-2-2 record with 104 points.

Hiller during his Wildcat playing days
Hiller during his Wildcat playing days
Prepared By

Kristi Evans
News Director

Categories: Alumni