One of the NHL’s most long standing traditions comes at the end of every playoff series when the members of both teams come together at center ice to congratulate one another on their hard work and effort during the best-of-seven series. Missing the post-series handshake is looked upon as severely unsportsmanlike, which has some members of the San Jose Sharks wondering why Terry Murray, head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, failed to go through the handshake line when the two teams completed their first round playoff matchup earlier this week.
“Kings battled hard! Tough series with 3 OT games!,” said San Jose forward Jamal Mayers via his Twitter account after the series concluded Monday night. “Too bad Murray didn’t have class to shake hands like players (who bled) and Asst Coaches.”
Devin Setoguchi made a similar claim on his own Twitter feed by writing, “Would like to know why coach of the Kings Terry Murray never shook our hands?? Might be a first??”
Murray did make an effort to shake the hands of Todd McLellen, head coach of the Sharks, and his assistant coaches, but failed to walk through the line and shake the hands of each player. The Kings’ assistant coaches went through the entire handshake line. McLellan and his coaching staff also entered the handshake line after the game.
“(Shaking hands) has always been about the players. My opportunity to complement the opponent is through the media, which I did several times in the series,” Murray said in response to the criticisms. “And last night I said that they were good enough to win four series in this year’s playoffs. That’s high praise coming from me.”
Skipping one of hockey’s most honored traditions doesn’t sit well with players. Just ask Sidney Crosby, who missed the post-series handshake with the Detroit Red Wings in 2009 when the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated Detroit to win the Stanley Cup. That incident certainly didn’t sit well with Red Wing veteran Kris Draper, who had no difficulty calling Crosby out on the situation. While there was no real resolution to the Crosby incident, stories continued to pop up for several weeks after as players weighed in on Crosby’s actions.
While Murray may believe that he rightfully has no place in the handshake line as a coach instead of a player, he still owes it to the opposition to go out and congratulate them personally on their hard work and effort. He can say whatever he wants in a press conference or through the media, but the handshake line offers him the opportunity to meet his foe face-to-face and congratulate them on their victory. It’s a humbling experience both for players and for coaches to admit defeat, but it’s a necessary growing opportunity as well. Hopefully next season Murray will wise up and step out to center ice and shake hands instead of speaking through the media.
What do you think? Should Los Angeles Kings coach Terry Murray have taken part in the handshake line or does he have a point that the handshakes are just for players?