It’s official. After four consecutive losses and a less than stellar start to the season, the Kings have fired Head Coach Terry Murray. Management is currently still searching for a replacement but according to GM Dean Lombardi the list is pretty short. In the meantime, Assistant Coach John Stevens will be filling in as the Kings start a four-game road trip tomorrow against the Boston Bruins. It’s sad to see Murray go because of all of the positive contributions he has made to this team, but at this point, there was no other choice. The players need to get the message and take this as a wake up call. Yes, you are a professional hockey player and I’m sure your life away from the rink is awesome, but it is your job to make sure that you are playing the best hockey that you possibly can and that means staying focused on your job and not your personal life. That is what you are getting paid for. That is why your life is so awesome! Now, I’m sure this is not the case for all of the players but it HAS to be a factor for some of them.I’m not saying that the responsibility doesn’t also fall on Murray’s shoulders, but in my opinion, the biggest issue is with the players underperforming. So let’s get it together boys!
Here is a partial quote from the conference call today with Lombardi courtesy of Rich Hammond:
Question: Does this have something to do with the fact that some of your younger players, Doughty and such, have been underperforming this year? Do you think that was a coaching thing, and that they need to hear a different voice?
LOMBARDI: “Obviously, you’re thinking that’s part of the solution, but in the end it still comes down to the player getting his focus and being the best he can be. With young players today, this is the challenge. But I don’t think it’s just the young players. I think it’s been right across the board. So I’m not just pinning some of the performance of the younger players, in getting to the next level. They are trying to reach their potential, and there are always stumbling blocks along the road to reaching their utmost. But then you have players with a specific m.o. who have had a certain level of success in this league. Players who are establishing themselves are going to have certain ups and downs, but they should have an idea of where they’ve been in the past. I don’t think we have any guys who you would consider old, or on the down side. So it’s collective. You just highlighted the young players, but I think the young player presents a different challenge for the coach today, in terms of getting to them. It’s so difficult, with all the things they have, to get to where they need to be, and it’s a process. I’ve been through this before. I saw it with Marleau, Stuart and Nabokov, but it’s collectively across the board here. You can’t just say it’s the young players. The Stolls, the Williams, the Greenes, the Browns, certainly have to look at themselves as much as the young players.’’
It’s unfortunate that Murray has had to pay the price, but on the upside, this should light a serious fire under these guys and make them step up. Murray’s contributions to the team will not be forgotten. He was able to lead the Kings to the postseason two years in a row for the first time in six seasons, he has the highest win percentage of all Kings franchise coaches at .560, and he was the fastest coach in Kings history to get to 100 wins. As far as replacements go, the two names I’ve been hearing the most are Tony Granato and Darryl Sutter. Nothing has been confirmed and according to Lombardi, there is no timeframe for when the coach will be selected, they are still in the process of looking.
Terry Murray, thank you for all of the great things you’ve done for the Kings, but I’m sorry your time is up.