TRH Gameday 17 – Minnesota Wild: 1000 Ways to Die

Game #17

LA Kings
(7-6-3, 17th in NHL)
Minnesota Wild
(8-4-3, 12th in NHL)

7:30pm, Staples Center
Los Angeles, CA


Hockey Wilderness
The State of Hockey News
Wild Puck Banter

The year was 1990, and after a 18-24-4 start to the 1st half of the season, the coach of the Washington Capitals for 8 seasons, Bryan Murray, was fired and replaced… by his brother, Terry Murray. I can’t find a photo of what Terry Murray looked like back then… but I’d imagine it was something like this:

Or actually like this:

Terry Murray coached the Capitals for 4 1/2 seasons and during his tenure as Head Coach, he made some memorable quotes to the press, like this one from a loss in 1991:

“This was an important game for us,” Terry Murray said. “They have to play better than they did tonight. We didn’t come out well tonight and that hurt us. As a team, we needed more intensity.”

Wow… he has changed so much, hasn’t he? Murray made the playoffs in 4 seasons as Capitals coach, but didn’t make it out of the 1st round in the last two appearances. And then on January 8th, 1994, when his Capitals team was 5 points behind the expansion Florida Panthers in the standings, Terry Murray was fired

Seriously, did the dude ever smile?

A few months later, Terry Murray was hired as the 4th Philadelphia Flyers head coach in 4 seasons. And he started off his tenure in Philly with the utmost in optimism for the future:

“I have no misconception of the job,” said Murray, 43, after becoming only the 10th coach in franchise history yesterday, but the fourth in the past four years. “At some point [newly appointed Flyers general manager] Bob Clarke will call me into his office and say the organization is going in a different direction.

“The years I spent with the Washington Capitals [January 1990 to January 1994] were good years. But the message gets a little old sometimes. I’ve been in the business long enough to know that . . . sometimes time runs out.”

Murray rang true on his pre-season prediction when after 3 years in Philadelphia he was fired. Murray did have good success with the Flyers… finishing 1st in the Atlantic 2 of the 3 seasons and taking the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1997… where they were promptly swept by the Detroit Red Wings. But not before Coach Murray had one last chance to talk to the Philly Press:

They are on the edge of the dustpan, on the verge of being swept out of the Stanley Cup Finals, and yesterday Flyers coach Terry Murray chose an odd way to fire up his troops. He invoked the dreaded “C” word choke on the eve of Game 4.

“It is basically a choking situation that I call it right now,” Murray said. “That can turn around. The one thing about going through that phase is that it is a mental block as much as anything. We’ve got to break through to a better performance (tonight).”

Since Murray is a man who usually selects his words wisely, the use of the term “choke,” in whatever context, would seem to be used with a purpose. If it was to inflame the Flyers, it might not work, because most of the team was in agreement with him when told of Murray’s comments.

“He’s probably right,” said right wing Mikael Renberg, who was limping yesterday from the left ankle injury that has bothered him through most of the playoffs. “We haven’t showed up.”

“Come on Shjon… look at me. I didn’t mean it. Come back to me Shjon.”

After being fired from the Flyers one week past the Stanley Cup Finals in 1997, Terry Murray became the head coach of the Florida Panthers for the 1998-99 season, joining his brother, Bryan Murray, who was the Panthers GM. The Brothers Murray took a team that had finished 2nd to last in the NHL the season before to 16th overall, just 8 points out of a playoff spot. 

Nope, still not smiling.

Coach Murray’s 2nd season in Florida had the team finishing 8th overall in the league with 98 points behind the stellar offense of Pavel Bure and the elite goaltending of Mike Vernon. They finished 6th in the East and there was a lot of excitement behind this Panthers team. Then they went out and were promptly swept by the New Jersey Devils in 4 games. The next season, Murray’s 3rd in Florida, the Panthers won 6 of their first 36 games, and the Brothers Murray were chased out of town. Then 7 years later… I think we all know what happened.

During Coach Murray’s 3 years and 16 games in Los Angeles, he has turned Anze Kopitar into an elite two-way centermen. He’s patiently allowed Jon Quick to become an elite NHL goalie and he’s made the Kings defense one of the best in the league. Oh… and he’s had little to no success getting his players to score goals. And of course, everyone is predicting that soon he will be fired. But tonight, when Coach Murray is behind the bench for his 1000th NHL game… you can’t help but look back at his tenure in other NHL cities… and see something in common.

The dude usually lasts just over 3 seasons.

I’m still firmly in the “Don’t Fire Murray” camp. But with another uninspiring, un-scoring loss to the Minnesota Wild tonight… I can’t help but think this may be Coach Murray’s last tour in the NHL. And if he is eventually fired… it will be his smile I’ll always remember.

And if NHL Head Coaching doesn’t work out… Terry Murray can always fall back on his 2nd career.

Well, Coach Murray had another talk with Dustin Penner… so maybe tonight is the night! You know the drill by now… PennerPoint is all about picking the time and period that Dustin Penner SCORES AN ACTUAL GOAL. None of this secondary assist that will eventually be taken away bullshit. So for your chance to win a free t-shirt from The Royal Half Gift Shoppe… simply guess the time and period before the game starts in the comments below or you can reply to me on Twitter with the hashtag #PennerPoint.

Whoops… nevermind

The Royal Half has been a Los Angeles Kings fan since 1988 and a Half-Season Ticket Holder since 2002. He has seen the following goaltenders play in person for the Los Angeles Kings… Kelly Hrudey, Grant Fuhr, Byron Dafoe, Jamie Storr, Stephane Fiset, Felix Potvin, Cristobal Huet, Roman Cechmanek, Mathieu Garon, Adam Hauser, Jason LaBarbera, Barry Brust, Sean Burke, Dan Cloutier, Yutaka Fukufuji, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Erik Ersberg, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones.You can follow The Royal Half on Twitter @TheRoyalHalf.