Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 12/13/11

The Los Angeles Kings announced today that head coach Terry Murray has been relieved of his duties and that Kings assistant coach John Stevens shall act as interim head coach.

It seems the Los Angeles Kings decided that it was time for a changing of the guard. On the eve of their four-game road trip, the Kings have decided to fire their head coach Terry Murray. After a disappointing homestand where the team lost five out of their previous seven games, Kings management made the call. For the time being, assistant coach John Stevens will assume the role of interim head coach.

Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi spoke to the press during a conference call shortly after the announcement of Murray’s dismissal.  ”We hadn’t been playing up to expectations. The last homestand was the end, but there wasn’t one glaring moment. It built up,” said Lombardi. The Kings’ GM also added “Last year we had some sketchy periods too…” and that Murray’s work ethic and focus never changed, that he never quit trying, but this year the expectations were higher. The expectations of this year made things more about results than the team finding “victories within losses.”

Photo Courtesy LA Times

It is unknown at this time how long Stevens will serve as interim head coach. Stevens is unlikely to keep the position for long though since he shares a very similar coaching style with Murray. Lombardi would not go into detail on his list of possible coaches, preferring not to tip his hand and simply state “it’s fair to say it’s a very short list.” Three names that seem to top the lists of speculators are Darryl Sutter, Tony Granato, and recently-fired Anaheim Ducks’ head coach Randy Carlyle. It should be noted, however, that the Kings have stated they are unlikely to go after Carlyle.

While it is never a good sign when a team fires their coach, it seems it was time to part with Murray. For a team that has expectations of being a Stanley Cup contender, ranking 30th in scoring is unacceptable. While some of the blame does need to be focused towards the players, it is also the coach’s job to right the ship, no? Things are not alright in the kingdom when there are unnamed texts stating they’re dead.

Sadly, many will forget the good that Murray did do for the Kings. He led the Kings to the playoffs the last two seasons, with that first season being their latest appearance since 2003. Top-Line centerman Anze Kopitar was molded into the great two-way player he is today under Murray’s teaching. While we haven’t seen it lately in more than just flashes, Murray is credited with establishing the great defensive structure the team is known for.

Murray began coaching with the Kings in the 2008-09 season and held a regular season record of 139-106-30. Among the Kings’ all-time coaches, his win total ranks third, fourth in games coached at 275, and first in winning percentage at .560. Murray was just one win away from his 500th career win.

Chris Van Deusen
NHLHS Los Angeles Kings Correspondent
Twitter – @TheCrazyWhls


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