Friday, November 14, 2008

Terry Murray, Kings Head Coach

I didn't know anything about Terry Murray before he was appointed the new Kings Head Coach. Although, I guess I should admit, that while I think I know a lot about past and present hockey players, I hardly know anything about hockey coaches, save for the famous ones (Bowman and Melrose). When the Kings canned Marc Crawford I didn't really know who should take over the job because of my limited knowledge of potential candidates. My podcast partner in crime, Connie, kept rattling off all these names, guys who coached in the minors, had experience with World Juniors Teams, etc. and why he should or should not be head of the Kings. I just sat there smiling, politely nodding my head because I had nothing to contribute to the conversation.

When the Kings announced Terry Murray as the head coach all I really thought was, at least he's not Marc Crawford. I learned a wee bit about the guy before the start of the season and my overall impression was, at least he's not Marc Crawford. Over a month into the season and I'm still not ready to make any hard judgment about Murray, but like with any coach, there are things that I see that impress me and others that irritate me.

My biggest pet peeve that is a continuation from last season: the constant mixing of the lines. The only pairing that has remained the same is Kopitar with Brown on the first line. Other than Mr. Capitain and his $7 million sidekick, it's anyone's guess who will be playing with them and which remaining players will be on the next three lines. I don't understand why Raitis Ivanans, the lone enforcer has yet to be a healthy scratch and why Kyle Calder has seen an enormous amount of minutes playing alongside Kopitar and Brown. Other questionable roster movements, in my humble blogger/fan opinion, include benching Tom Preissing for several too many games, using the less than stellar defenseman Peter Harrold as a forward, sending Matt Moulson back to the Manchester Monarchs, and starting Jason LaBarbera for 10 straight games, despite the obvious need to shake things up in net. But with all of my complaints, which of course are amplified during losing streaks, I do have some praise for Mr. Murray.

The Kings defense is much improved over last year. The team is allowing significantly fewer shots and the penalty kill is actually respectable. Considering that defense was a huge question mark coming into the season, it's a relief to see that it's doing pretty well. Murray was a defenseman during his days as a hockey player, which could only help in the quest to improve the Kings defense. He's also a much calmer person compared to Crawford. I can't even count how many times last season the camera would pan over to the bench and Crow would look like he was about to burst an artery in his neck. On the other hand, every time the camera focuses on Murray, he looks like he could be at the symphony; maybe a little shake of the head will occur when something does go well, but usually a pensive expression will overcome him. The guys are obviously responding to Murray and his coaching staff and it's refreshing to see the Kings play good hockey.

Some hockey analysts criticized the hiring because they expected the Kings to pick someone without any NHL coaching experience but with success in the AHL. But Murray has experience with teams in rebuilding years and coaching them into successful seasons. So far, his positives outweigh the negatives and, considering he wasn't the first new coach to be fired, I say he's doing the job well enough.

1 comment:

Cat said...

Oh, how I can relate with the line-juggling...