The Los Angeles Kings assistant coach, who played for three different teams during the ECHL’s infancy, is one win away from getting a chance to add his name to the Stanley Cup. The Western Conference Finals series, which has prominently featured former ECHL goaltenders Jonathan Quick and Mike Smith, among other alums, is currently at three games to one in favor of the Kings, who would eliminate the opposing Phoenix Coyotes with a win tomorrow night.
But way back when — the 1989-90 and 1990-91 seasons, to be precise — Kompon was a defenseman for the Hampton Roads Admirals, Cincinnati Cyclones and Winston-Salem Thunderbirds. At the time, the league had just eight teams.
"I vividly remember going down to Hampton Roads and wondering what kind of league this was going to be," Kompon told ECHL.com last season.
"When I got down there, the hockey was a lot higher caliber than I guess I’d anticipated. It was quite eye-opening for me, it was really good hockey. It was fast-paced and wasn’t the "Slap Shot" mode or anything like that, it was a good brand of hockey."
"I was that type of player where I’d do whatever it took for the team to win, it was team-first," Kompon said. "John really believed in that, and he gave me the opportunity to play there. I really enjoyed my time."
But after two seasons in the league, Kompon gave up on his playing career to focus on coaching, accepting an offer to coach a private school team in Montreal that had been on the table ever since his college career had ended. Kompon said that he was trying to be realistic with himself, knowing that an NHL career, at least a player, likely wasn’t in the cards.
After coaching at his alma mater, McGill, Kompon joined the AHL’s Baltimore Skipjacks as an assistant coach for the 1996-97 season before jumping to the NHL the following season with the St. Louis Blues as a video coach. He’s been at the game’s highest level ever since.
"The NHL was always a goal for me," he said. "I think I was very fortunate to come upon it. One thing kind of led to another…it happened very fast."
Kompon progressed through the Blues organization, moving to Strength and Conditioning coach and then an assistant coach before his tenure there ended after the 2005-06 season. He joined the Kings the next year, and has been behind the bench ever since.
"This is a great job," he said. "I don’t know many people can get out of bed and say they absolutely love what they do. I don’t know many people can jump out of bed and be excited and looking forward to going to work every day, and I’m very fortunate to be one of those people that have that kind of job."