Blog Entry

Terry Murray replaced by John Stevens

Posted on: December 12, 2011 6:00 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 8:52 pm

By: Adam Gretz

Just hours after reports initially surfaced that the Los Angeles Kings could be the next team to make a coaching change, the front office did just that on Monday evening by announcing that head coach Terry Murray has been relieved of his duties. He will be replaced on an interim basis by assistant coach John Stevens.

Murray was in his fourth year as the team's head coach and had compiled a 139-106-19 regular season record, while qualifying for the playoffs in each of the past two seasons, exiting in the first round each time.

“I don’t think words can ever describe how hard something like this is," said Kings general manager Dean Lombardi during a conference call. "You’re talking about, first off, a really good man. As far as a coach, if you look at what he’s done for us, he really stabilized this franchise, pointed it in the right direction. He taught these players a lot. When they look back, they’re going to realize they learned a lot from him. The team got younger and got better under him. He did a lot for this franchise.’’

After a blockbuster trade over the summer that saw the team acquire top-line center Mike Richards in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers, the Kings were expected to be -- and probably still should be -- one of the top contenders in the Western Conference as he joined a team that already had young Stars Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty. So far, things have not worked as planned as they have stumbled out of the starting gate with a 13-12-4 record that currently has them in fourth place in the Pacific Dividion, ahead of only the struggling Anaheim Ducks.

Making the slow start even more frustrating is the fact the Kings have received excellent goaltending from Jonathan Quick since the season started. The problem, however, has been that the offense, once you get past Kopitar and Richards, has been pretty much invisible in all situations (even strength, power play).

Replacing him on an interim basis is the 45-year-old Stevens who joined the Kings organization last season as an assistant.

He'll be taking over a team that has plenty of talent, and what should be high expectations given the talent at his disposal. Will this be the kick in the rear the Kings need to get things going back in the right direction? And, perhaps more importantly, is Stevens the right person to do that?

He does have previous head coaching experience in the NHL, running things behind the bench in Philadelphia between the 2006-07 season and 2009-10. He replaced Ken Hitchcock early in the '06-07 season and remained on the job until early in the 2009 season when he was replaced by Peter Laviolette. The Flyers then went on to win the Eastern Conference and lose in the Stanley Cup Final to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. During his stint with the Flyers the team had a record 120-109-34 under his watch.

But while he's currently behind the bench, he may not be there for long. Speculation has already started that his tenure is going to be a temporary one, and one name that's been mentioned is Darryl Sutter. Lombardi was asked specifically about Sutter and how he's spoke highly of him in the past.

“Like I said, there’s no timeline and we’re looking at all our options. Right now, I think that’s as far as I can comment.’’

This is already the fifth coaching change of the NHL season. Previously, the St. Louis Blues replaced Davis Payne with Hitchcock, while the Capitals, Hurricanes and Ducks all made changes over the past month.

More on the NHL's Coaching Carousel here

Photo: Getty Images

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Since: Sep 30, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 4:27 pm

Terry Murray replaced by John Stevens

There was no doubt that Murray had to go and go now.  He had lost the ear of the locker room and when that happens, a coach is done.  It is far easier to replace a coach then a roster.  The Kings made offseason moves to address their lack of scoring from a year ago.......they added fire power and are scoring less.  With Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Simone Gagne and Dustin Penner as your top 6 forwards, you have 6 guys that should score 20  - 30 goals each.......Williams looks like he could not hit the side of a barn with a puck right now, Penner generally looks lost, Richards is injured.  Kopitar, Brown and Gagne look the best, but they cannot carry the team.  Doughty seems to be having big contract expectation problems and the rest of the team just cannot do anything.
I do not know if Stevens can do the job and I do not know if Sutter is right, but the changing of the coaching regime should send a clear message to the locker room......."you were assembled to win, now start performing".  The next move managment makes will be a trade to shift the chemistry both in the locker room and on the ice.

Go Kings Go!

Since: Oct 8, 2009
Posted on: December 13, 2011 2:58 pm

Terry Murray replaced by John Stevens

They've got a lot of good offensive talent: Carter, Gagne, Williams, Penner, Kopitar.  But none of them has really been known for pure goal scoring recently. Kopitar is probably their biggest threat and he only potted 25 last season and he's only scored more than 30 twice. Gagne and Penner have both seemed to have peaked already in their careers. I know Gagne is a former 40 goal guy but he's a few seasons removed from that and he's been dealing with a lot of injury problems since then. And Penner is one of those guys who never seems to quite reach his potential. Richards is also 3 or so seasons removed from his best campaign. He's got 20 points in 25 games, which isn't shabby, but injuries have kept him from perhaps doing more for this team. Williams hasn't had gaudy offensive output since he was with the Canes about half a decade ago. He's good for secondary scoring, but again, injuries have been a problem for him in recent seasons.

Not that those guys will score no goals at all. You would think with this collection of talent, scoring by committee would work. But this may be the case of having too many of the same type of player on the team and throwing off the chemistry. It looks good on paper. But we all know how much that's worth in hockey. Just ask the Rangers of the late 90's.

So I don't think that you can lay the blame for these guys at Murray's feet. But as is usual, it's easier to fire the coach than replace all the players. And GMs don't seem to get the axe until the offseason.

Since: Mar 26, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:59 am

Terry Murray replaced by John Stevens

@hockeybob: You're right regarding Lombardi. This is the SECOND coach he's fired that he hired. It's been pretty obvious over the last month that Murray has lost the locker room. No passion, no intensity, no desperation, no offense.

I think the season is lost with Stevens being a mere clone of Murray.

The problem with Murray is that the fan base expectations are higher this year. This club should not only make the playoffs, but make the second round. If this year is anything like last year, every point counts in the West. There is no time for hesitating. Something needed to be done, although I thought they would give him the road trip to figure things out.

Next up is some players getting moved or sent to the minors. 

Since: Jul 9, 2011
Posted on: December 12, 2011 9:03 pm

Terry Murray replaced by John Stevens

Murray is a defence minded coach and for the kings with few scorers and a young team thats what they needed. But now they have 2 very good lines that can score but play that no cheat style the true scorers like Richards- Kopitar- Williams-PINNER.....yes i said Pinner! With a more offence minded coach he will score again!  I like Murray very much but its time for him to move on. Lests open it up a little and I think the goals will start going in more often!

Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: December 12, 2011 6:06 pm

Terry Murray replaced by John Stevens

Lombardi's bid to keep his job.   Wasn't Murray's fault imo, and I wasn't much of a Murray fan.    He should have had the rest of the year to see what he could do. 

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