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He joined the Kings on Dec. 20 and spent Christmas watching film with Lombardi in El Segundo. The Kings were initially slow to respond to his combination of discipline and detail _ and sometimes they couldn’t understand a word he said in that low-pitched, mumbled, frequently sarcastic voice.

“I always made sure when drills were happening to be at the back of the line,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said.

Even the rest of the Kings‘ front office wasn’t sure what to make of the coach who had a reputation for harsh discipline and raised voice.

“Everyone kind of stayed away from him because we had heard all the rumors … but it was an easy transition after all,” said Luc Robitaille, the Kings‘ Hall of Fame left wing who now oversees their business operations. “You heard he’s gnarly. He seems a lot more relaxed, and I think he’s really enjoying it. You win, and it makes everything a lot easier.”

Robitaille also believes Sutter quickly fit into the organization by praising Murray, who led the Kings‘ return to the postseason over the past two seasons after an eight-year absence. Sutter even rented Murray’s Manhattan Beach home for the rest of the season, although he might need more permanent digs now if he makes a long-term commitment to the Kings.

Sutter made several tweaks to the Kings‘ system under Murray, but not wholesale changes, according to the players. The penalty kill, always solid, has been outstanding in his tenure, but he deflects the credit to John Stevens, Murray’s assistant and a former Philadelphia head coach who served as the Kings‘ interim coach for four games and then stayed on Sutter’s staff.

Sutter has tried not to change his approach during the Kings‘ playoff run, saying he still drinks a “pail of coffee” every morning and analyzes every detail on Los Angeles’ opponents. Although he thinks games are almost over-scouted these days, with every tendency and trivia byte analyzed down to the inch, he makes sure his players are prepared.

And unlike his reputation, Sutter seems utterly relaxed away from cameras and notebooks in Los Angeles, chatting about everything from farming to television to baseball: He’s a Cubs fan from his life in Chicago, but was thrilled to check out Dodger Stadium’s retro vibe during his first visit there earlier this spring.

Sutter is enjoying the ride, but he’s also looking forward to getting back to Viking. There’s more work to be done, after all.

“Just like a player, best part is game day,” Sutter said. “What is that line that Junior Seau said? Plays the game for nothing, gets paid to practice. He’s dead on when you think about it.”