Kings Coach Terry Murray still unhappy with Marco Sturm
Left wing Marco Sturm seems to have become the whipping boy for Kings Coach Terry Murray after two days of scathing comments from a coach who rarely singles anyone out for public chiding.
Before Thursday’s morning skate, Murray said he had talked to Sturm to criticize the player’s work ethic. He wasn’t any more complimentary after practice Friday, even though Sturm earned an assist Thursday with a shot that was rebounded for a goal by Kyle Clifford.
Murray repeated that Sturm is "still in training camp mode" after undergoing surgery on the medial collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments of his right knee last May and indicated he’s not happy with Sturm’s play. Considering that General Manager Dean Lombardi likes Sturm -- Lombardi drafted Sturm into the NHL as the San Jose Sharks’ general manager and pursued him a second time this season after medical concerns led the Kings’ doctors to be cautious on the first go-round -- it could become a point of contention between a general manager and a coach who are otherwise close.
"I understand it and I have that compassion that he has to go through it during the games," Murray said of Sturm’s readjustment to the pace and rigors of the NHL. "That he’s got to get his game in order and he’s coming to a new team, moving, very unsettled with everything that’s going on. Hotel, place to live -- it’s hard. Very difficult. No matter how long you’ve been in the league you’ve just got to go through those situations and find a way to get your game in order and settle it in.
"I’m dealing with it. Not comfortably but I’m going to keep pushing and keep talking and going to have to get his game back to the level of play that he knows he can play at. And quite honestly I’m waiting to see what that level is myself. I don’t know him well enough over the years to have put him under the microscope and say, 'This is exactly what I’m going to get every shift, what I need, and this is the expectation.' So I’m waiting for him to show me. But I certainly have to see that high level of intensity and work every shift."
True, Sturm hasn’t exactly set the Kings’ world on fire since he was acquired from Boston. He has two goals and four points in nine games playing with an ever-changing array of linemates.
But is it realistic to expect Sturm, a seven-time 20-goal scorer, to have regained that form when he’s barely eight months removed from such extensive surgery?
Murray thinks it is, and went back to his days as coach of the Florida Panthers to back up his argument.
"It’s not unreasonable. I’ve had players come through this thing." he said. "I’ve had Pavel Bure went through the second operation -- the same kind of operation on the same leg -- and he’s back, right on top of his game and scored 57 goals for me that year [actually 58 in 1999-2000].
"And so it’s very demanding. You’ve got to really push hard and go through a lot of pain on the off-ice part of things to get yourself ready to get on the ice and get going. But once you get on the ice you’ve got to get to that hard work every time, every shift and that’s what I need from Marco. I think there’s times out there that there’s a skill element to his game and he wants to play that kind of a game but also we need now to add in that competitive side of it."
That applies to more than a few of his teammates, too.
Murray put Sturm with center Jarret Stoll and right wing Wayne Simmonds in practice Friday and likely will keep that trio together Saturday against Columbus, so he will have another chance to escape the doghouse.
Photo: Kings winger Marco Sturm tries to beat Nashville's Shane O'Brien to the puck during the second period of their game Thursday night at Staples Center. Credit: Harry How / Getty Images