Kings’ Brass Acts At Last
Terry Murray ousted as head coach of the Los Angeles Kings
It had all gone bad
“I think it had to happen,” one Kings player who requested anonymity told me via text message. “We were dead.” – Pierre LeBrun
Terry couldn’t Carry: As much as I’ve harped on the need for the Kings to dismiss Terry Murray from duties as head coach, you never want to see this become an ultimatum for a club 29 games into an 82 game campaign. Dean Lombardi was flirting with a deadline to salvage the season, making the move at the latest point he possibly could have to counter the mess the Kings have produced thus far, and turn things around with a new voice behind the bench. I would have liked to see this action from Lombardi two weeks earlier, which especially had me frustrated with LA’s hockey media who sugarcoated Murray’s final weeks in extremely frustrating ways.
If this was happening in a major NHL city (IE: Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Detroit) complete mayhem would’ve abused TV networks, Radio stations, and the Interweb dating back to mid-November. This dragged on far too long.
The hype to cut ties with Murray didn’t really grow wings until this past week, and it had to come from the fans, bloggers were the only sources to express any distaste with the state of the team. You’ve got to understand the other side before taking shots, you’ve got to understand the point of view coming from the sources who talk to Terry Murray on a daily basis. Even with that, however, his explanations started to delve deeper into statistics, something that has been somewhat of a scapegoat for the Kings struggles this year.
Murray did a wonderful job developing a young Kings core for three seasons, and that’s been a positive attribute on his NHL coaching resume. When you’re working with a young, unproven group like Murray did for those three years, expectations aren’t going to spotlight your output. But with the moves made over the summer, and the Kings working with a roster that has come close to maximizing the team’s cap space for the first time in years, failure like this is simply unacceptable. Best of luck to you, Terry. Thank you for the good work you did in Los Angeles.
John Stevens will head the Kings bench on an interim basis
Terry 2.0: Stevens, who preaches strategy and has a similar history just like Murray will be the momentary head coach for the Kings. Since he was not promoted in concrete fashion upon Murray’s dismissal, you can count out his chances of heading this bench for an extended period of time. And so, you can’t guarantee he’s safe to hold his position if a new coach hits Dean Lombardi‘s interest radar. Assistant coaches don’t feel the threat until a new voice gains strength with the club’s front office, that’s when they’re open to make co-worker requests. Whoever is chosen upon still heeds a question mark as to who fits alongside them for the job.
Who will it be?: That’s the intriguing part, and don’t expect the search to last longer than the Kings’ upcoming four-game roady. I’m hearing notions from a fellow KingsCast administrator that Tony Granato‘s name has been thrown around the inside circle, a guy who’s got the reputation of lighting locker room fires and winning – even if the tenure was rather short.
Initially hired as an assistant coach, Granato was promoted (much like John Stevens) 31 games into the Colorado Avalanche‘ 2002-2003 season, we’re a mere 29 into the season this time around. Under Granato, Colorado finished the campaign’s 51 remaining games with a 32-11-8 record, claiming a Division title. The Kings are close to meeting that mark, with 53 games remaining on the year’s slate. Granato went on to lead Colorado to a 40-22-20 season in 2003-2004, but was fired to due postseason failure. The Avalanche took another shot with Granato after canning Joel Quenneville in 2008, but the second dance just never pans out. His second stint heading Colorado should be irrelevant when considering him for the Kings.
If it isn’t Granato, I wouldn’t get caught up in big names available on the market, there isn’t much to pick from anyway. I’m not on the Randy Carlyle wagon, I’m just not. What’s appealing about Granato is his short-term NHL head coaching experience, which is why I’m interested in the Kings approaching unknown names impressing in the AHL or Collegiate (NCAA) level. I’m taking a dive to say this publicly, much like the risk Dean Lombardi and Co. would be facing to actually do so. I’m not here to pick and choose, it will most certainly be an interesting week.
Jackets on the plate
Two and Out: Columbus isn’t even a slight guarantee at this point, with the Kings struggling mightily to amount more than one goal a game. The differential isn’t terrible, standing at -2, but the lack of production from a refurbished offense that has more talent and veteran occupancy since their rebuild overhaul in 2008-2009 is disturbing. Not to mention, their lack to score early in games, especially being the team to score first. Here’s some quick bullets regarding offensive struggles…which indirectly uncover how crucial Kings goaltending has been.
- In 29 games played so far, the Kings have managed to score more than 2 goals in only 8 of those contests. The Kings are 8-0-0 when this happens.
- The Kings have been unable to eclipse the 2-goal mark in the last 8 games, scoring just 13 goals in a 3-5-1 stretch.
- If the Kings don’t score early, they don’t win. They’ve been trailing to start a 3rd period in 12 contests, and have lost them all. They’ve allowed the first goal in 14 of 29 games, and have won just 3 of those.
This just about sums it up
Wingin’ it: In the first installment of life after Terry Murray, the Kings will head way to TD Garden for a date with the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins. This will be the first of a four-game road trip, the Kings carrying baggage of four consecutive losses to New England. John Stevens is taking quite an intriguing approach tonight, where all players that have traveled will take the ice tonight for pregame warmups. Only after will Stevens finalize his roster for the night. However, don’t expect to see any drastic changes coming from Stevens, and expect hometown boy Jonathan Quick to be a lock in the crease.
Stevens’ laid back approach tonight could help this roster find themselves, get away from the textbook-play that has plagued their output all season, and rebuild a bit of their shattered confidence.
Because, well, you know, the Kings just have not been able to produce any type of effective shot mentality.
The Kings are reportedly in talks with Darryl Sutter. Please, please look at all options, Deano. This would not be the ideal solution.
Looks like Terry Murray with a bitter beer face