You can officially add Terry Murray to the growing list of NHL coaches that started the year employed only to be fired during the season. The LA Kings announced Monday afternoon that Murray had been released and assistant coach John Stevens will be the new coach on an interim basis.
As many outlets have reported, it was a matter of “when” and not “if” for coach Murray.
Honestly, are any of you surprised to read this?
Murray’s days have been numbered for quite some time, and to many, the decision by LA to move to a new coach actually took longer than expected. As of Murray’s termination, the Kings sat fourth in a crowded Pacific division and 12th in the competitive Western Conference. The Kings record at home had sank to a mediocre 8-9-1 and the team was 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.
LA has thrived defensively and on the penalty kill, but when it comes to anything offensively related, the Kings have struggled – and that’s being kind.
As of his firing, Murray’s Kings were ranked 30th in the NHL in offense, averaging a modest 2.2 goals per contest. Nearly equally as disappointing is the club’s power play, which currently is ranked 21st, converting 16.7% of the time.
The Kings have had to deal with injuries to key players, specifically one of their hottest hands in Mike Richards, which has been a reason as to why the Kings have struggled so much on offense. However, this does not explain why a player such as Drew Doughty has struggled so much in 2011-12. Critics have pointed to the scheme and planning, which is likely why Murray has been shown the door.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that a King that preferred to not be identified had this to say in response to Murray’s termination, “I think it had to happen. We were dead.”
No argument here, as the Kings have dropped four of their five contests in the month of December.
Now, the Kings will determine whether Stevens is the right man behind the bench or whether a more permanent option needs to be brought in (we are leaning on a new face being brought in). Also, no longer can the Kings point to Murray as an excuse for their poor offense and execution. The players themselves now need to step up, and convert on their opportunities now that the head coach has been removed.