Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Kings

Is Murray's Time Up In Los Angeles?

Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Kings

Terry Murray has coached these Los Angeles Kings for the past three years. This year will be his fourth behind the bench in Los Angeles, and by and large he has acquitted himself quite well. In 2009-2010, he led the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2001-2002, and he has helped some of the youngsters grow into productive players. Though how much of that is a direct result of his coaching is difficult if not impossible to say. He provides a calming influence behind the bench, and rarely seems worked up or angry about anything. Even when disappointed, he presents an even keel, something that even I have said is probably useful, especially with the young team he has been saddled with over the past few years.

But he’s not saddled with a young team any more. The team he’s got is no longer “young and promising.” We’ve been hearing that cry for how many years now. Sure, we all hoped that the Kings would be making more significant strides, and as Jim Fox is so fond of saying, “it’s still early.” The Kings may still turn it around. In fact, if I was a betting man, I’d say it’s likely that they will turn it around and make the playoffs. But that turn around may be as much despite the coaching as because of it. I think it’s time for a change. Terry Murray served his purpose, but the Kings are stagnating, and are struggling with the same problems they’ve had over the past several seasons. They can’t score on the 5-on-5 regularly, they play an ultra-defensive style of play that seems to handcuff our offensive abilities, and unless Quick is pitching shutout after shutout, the Kings are just not winning games. Heck, literally half of the Kings wins come when Quick shuts the other team out completely. Relying on that strategy is a recipe for either a)Quick having the best season of any goaltender in modern hockey history, or b)a lottery draft pick.

In either case, Murray has been unable to shake the team out of its current funk. This isn’t a new phenomenon either. Last season the Kings went through several long slumps, and appeared to get no help busting out of it from Murray and the coaching staff, who instead relied, at least on paper, on platitudes about “playing tough,” and “keeping to the system.” The sentiments were echoed by the player leadership, no doubt coming from on high, but that change never really occurred. So maybe the time for a change is now?

Sure. Eventually the Kings turned things around. It’s inevitable with a team with this level of talent. Drew Doughty is a Norris-trophy finalist, and will likely be one again soon. Jack Johnson is playing some of the best hockey of his career this season, and is showing steady improvement. Anze Kopitar is one of the best centerman in the league, and is showing his offensive skills again this season. So yea, the Kings will break out of this slump as well. They’ll probably win a string of games, get themselves back in the upper half of the conference, and this discussion will be shelved. But should it be? It seems that this Kings team is unable to adjust its playing style in any productive way. They have been unable to adjust for years, and the only real constant has been Murray and his coaching staff.

I’m not suggesting that a balls-to-the-wall, all-out, crazy attacking strategy would be the best one, although frankly this team could probably race with the best of them, and John Tortorella is perhaps not the ideal model for a coach in Los Angeles, but a bit of offensive creativity would perhaps be useful for this team that has some of the best offensive talent in the league. Defensive responsibility is important, but the crying out loud, the Kings have lost 5 in a row, and with virtually not a single game where you can realistically point at goaltending. The offense is just not getting it done.

I know what you’re going to think. Dean Lombardi has given no indication that he’s even wavering in his undying support of Terry Murray. However, sooner or later a reckoning will have to come. If the Kings continue to struggle with this bizarre up and down style of getting results, something will have to change. Lombardi has spent nearly to the cap, and this team is built to be a contender. They’re no longer built to be a schizophrenic team with an incredibly mind-blowing lack of consistency. They’re no longer content to make the playoffs only to be systematically dumped by one of the bigger players in the conference. The Kings motto this season is “The Time Is Now.” If that’s really the case, perhaps the time is now to send Murray off into the sunset with a hearty handshake. Wish him luck and find a coach who can make something happen with the talent he is provided.

  • TheJonGillette

    Just not sure it’ll happen right now. Murray is at 998 games coached. Imagine getting to 999 and getting canned! Tonight is HUGE…

  • TheJonGillette

    Just not sure it’ll happen right now. Murray is at 998 games coached. Imagine getting to 999 and getting canned! Tonight is HUGE…

  • TheJonGillette

    Just not sure it’ll happen right now. Murray is at 998 games coached. Imagine getting to 999 and getting canned! Tonight is HUGE…

  • ajia

    Time for a change. When asked about the starting goalie didn’t he say he would start whoever was hot. Then when Quick couldn’t be hotter he starts Bernier! Was this so Quick could start back to back games a few days later? WTF? He should have started Quick, then Bernier on the first of the B2B games, then Quick. I just don’t get it. Kings were rolling, then after those 3 games they’re just not the same.

  • ajia

    Time for a change. When asked about the starting goalie didn’t he say he would start whoever was hot. Then when Quick couldn’t be hotter he starts Bernier! Was this so Quick could start back to back games a few days later? WTF? He should have started Quick, then Bernier on the first of the B2B games, then Quick. I just don’t get it. Kings were rolling, then after those 3 games they’re just not the same.

  • ajia

    Time for a change. When asked about the starting goalie didn’t he say he would start whoever was hot. Then when Quick couldn’t be hotter he starts Bernier! Was this so Quick could start back to back games a few days later? WTF? He should have started Quick, then Bernier on the first of the B2B games, then Quick. I just don’t get it. Kings were rolling, then after those 3 games they’re just not the same.

  • gavinhumes

    I agree, that was a strange decision. Anyone think the win last night against Nashville bought him some time?

  • TheJonGillette

    @gavinhumes Not only did it buy Murray some time, I think some key players got some much needed confidence out of that game. Now, let’s see if they can rattle and already flustered Roberto Luongo tomorrow night. It’s there for the taking!

  • ajia

    Keeping a coach because of the amount of games coached is idiotic. He’s not packing Staples because of it. As for last night’s win….Bernier allows 2 goals on 8 shots in the first! Maybe the Kings need to trade him before he plays too many more games?! Kings…..4 shots on goal in the 3rd!!! Last I heard you need to shot to shot!

  • gavinhumes

    I agree, that was a strange decision. Anyone think the win last night against Nashville bought him some time?

  • gavinhumes

    I agree, that was a strange decision. Anyone think the win last night against Nashville bought him some time?

  • TheJonGillette

    @gavinhumes Not only did it buy Murray some time, I think some key players got some much needed confidence out of that game. Now, let’s see if they can rattle and already flustered Roberto Luongo tomorrow night. It’s there for the taking!

  • TheJonGillette

    @gavinhumes Not only did it buy Murray some time, I think some key players got some much needed confidence out of that game. Now, let’s see if they can rattle and already flustered Roberto Luongo tomorrow night. It’s there for the taking!

  • ajia

    Keeping a coach because of the amount of games coached is idiotic. He’s not packing Staples because of it. As for last night’s win….Bernier allows 2 goals on 8 shots in the first! Maybe the Kings need to trade him before he plays too many more games?! Kings…..4 shots on goal in the 3rd!!! Last I heard you need to shot to shot!

  • ajia

    Keeping a coach because of the amount of games coached is idiotic. He’s not packing Staples because of it. As for last night’s win….Bernier allows 2 goals on 8 shots in the first! Maybe the Kings need to trade him before he plays too many more games?! Kings…..4 shots on goal in the 3rd!!! Last I heard you need to shot to shot!

  • TheJonGillette

    @ajia I’m pretty sure the amount of games coached is what got him the gig in the first place. Experience is a valuable asset. 1,000 games coached is a big milestone, too. I think the players may press to get the win that night. Just a hunch though… All that being said, I’m actually on board with a change at the coaching level, as I wrote a couple of days ago in my recap of the Penguins game (http://rinkroyalty.com/2011/11/06/kings-lose-to-penguins-in-shootout/). A coach needs to get the most out of his players and Murray is getting less than what these guys are capable of. My point below was, getting to 998 or 999 games coached and getting fired would be a letdown (to put it mildly). I don’t think Dean would do it, regardless of last night’s outcome.

    Also, there were a few other factors on those goals Bernier gave up (a bad turnover by Jack Johnson comes to mind). I wouldn’t count on Bernier leaving before the deadline, if he even gets dealt this season. Again, just a hunch.

  • ajia

    @TheJonGillette A coach needs to get the most out of his players and Murray is getting less than what these guys are capable of.

    And therein lies a BIG problem. When it’s time to trade, and a player to be traded is under-performing because the coach isn’t getting the best out of him, then the team won’t get a comparable player (in capabilities) in return. Then if this ‘traded for’ player now plays under their capabilities because of the coach the team just spirals down because of the coach.

    I don’t expect Bernier to be traded until teams find themselves fighting for a playoff spot & needing a better goalie…..and having a scorer to spare. I just hope we can wait that long.

  • TheJonGillette

    @ajia I’m pretty sure the amount of games coached is what got him the gig in the first place. Experience is a valuable asset. 1,000 games coached is a big milestone, too. I think the players may press to get the win that night. Just a hunch though… All that being said, I’m actually on board with a change at the coaching level, as I wrote a couple of days ago in my recap of the Penguins game (http://rinkroyalty.com/2011/11/06/kings-lose-to-penguins-in-shootout/). A coach needs to get the most out of his players and Murray is getting less than what these guys are capable of. My point below was, getting to 998 or 999 games coached and getting fired would be a letdown (to put it mildly). I don’t think Dean would do it, regardless of last night’s outcome.

    Also, there were a few other factors on those goals Bernier gave up (a bad turnover by Jack Johnson comes to mind). I wouldn’t count on Bernier leaving before the deadline, if he even gets dealt this season. Again, just a hunch.

  • TheJonGillette

    @ajia I’m pretty sure the amount of games coached is what got him the gig in the first place. Experience is a valuable asset. 1,000 games coached is a big milestone, too. I think the players may press to get the win that night. Just a hunch though… All that being said, I’m actually on board with a change at the coaching level, as I wrote a couple of days ago in my recap of the Penguins game (http://rinkroyalty.com/2011/11/06/kings-lose-to-penguins-in-shootout/). A coach needs to get the most out of his players and Murray is getting less than what these guys are capable of. My point below was, getting to 998 or 999 games coached and getting fired would be a letdown (to put it mildly). I don’t think Dean would do it, regardless of last night’s outcome.

    Also, there were a few other factors on those goals Bernier gave up (a bad turnover by Jack Johnson comes to mind). I wouldn’t count on Bernier leaving before the deadline, if he even gets dealt this season. Again, just a hunch.

  • ajia

    @TheJonGillette A coach needs to get the most out of his players and Murray is getting less than what these guys are capable of.

    And therein lies a BIG problem. When it’s time to trade, and a player to be traded is under-performing because the coach isn’t getting the best out of him, then the team won’t get a comparable player (in capabilities) in return. Then if this ‘traded for’ player now plays under their capabilities because of the coach the team just spirals down because of the coach.

    I don’t expect Bernier to be traded until teams find themselves fighting for a playoff spot & needing a better goalie…..and having a scorer to spare. I just hope we can wait that long.

  • ajia

    @TheJonGillette A coach needs to get the most out of his players and Murray is getting less than what these guys are capable of.

    And therein lies a BIG problem. When it’s time to trade, and a player to be traded is under-performing because the coach isn’t getting the best out of him, then the team won’t get a comparable player (in capabilities) in return. Then if this ‘traded for’ player now plays under their capabilities because of the coach the team just spirals down because of the coach.

    I don’t expect Bernier to be traded until teams find themselves fighting for a playoff spot & needing a better goalie…..and having a scorer to spare. I just hope we can wait that long.