A little over a quarter of the way through the season and another coaching change has been made as teams begin to assess their status in comparison to their expectations. This time the man out is Los Angeles Kings head coach Terry Murray.
After making an offseason trade for center Mike Richards, the Kings had high hopes coming into the season with another legitimate goal scorer on board and enough depth to make a serious playoff run. However, the Kings have had a weak start to the season thus far going 13-12-4 in 29 games. Even though the team is currently ranked 12th in the Western Conference, the Kings have won only three of their last 10 and have dropped four straight.
“We hadn’t been playing up to the expectations of this team, and I think the last homestand was the end of it,” said Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who flew to Boston on Monday to deliver the news to Murray at the team hotel before an intense meeting with his players. “You’re constantly evaluating everything. I don’t think you can say (there was) one glaring moment. It just kind of builds up.”
Lombardi said that Murray doesn’t deserve to be fired, but someone has to take the blame for the team’s terrible start. But the move should also come as a stern warning to the players on the roster as well.
“Ultimately, the message is that they’re accountable,” Lombardi said. “Unfortunately, the coach has to pay the price, but make no mistake, they’re the ones who are accountable for this.”
Assistant coach John Stevens will step in as the club’s interim head coach for the time being. Stevens, a former coach for the Philadelphia Flyers, was a long time associate of Murray’s. He led the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008, but was fired at the end of the season. It’s uncertain how long Stevens will remain head coach of the Kings, but Lombardi stated that the team is considering all options in terms of replacing Murray.