Sentimental journey for Kings' coaches, management
The coaching staff and executives of the Kings -- also known as the West Coast branch of the Flyers alumni society -- got warm welcomes Sunday before the Kings faced the East-leading Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.
Flyers employees and others greeted Kings Coach Terry Murray, assistant coach John Stevens and General Manager Dean Lombardi, though Murray pretended he had been snubbed.
“Nobody sent a beer to my room. No Philly cheesesteak, nothing at all,” he said, smiling.
But Murray, who played for the Flyers in addition to coaching them, said he relished the chance to see old friends.
“There’s a good feeling coming back here. This is a place I was a part of for a long time,” he said. “It goes back to ’75, when I came as a player, so there’s a lot of former teammates still around and a great history of the game. It was a lot of fun playing here, in this city, and to also coach here.”
But he seemed to have little sorrow that the end is near for the Spectrum, the Flyers' longtime home. The arena, located across the street from the Wells Fargo Center in a sports complex that also includes the homes of the Eagles and Phillies, is in the midst of being demolished. The Flyers and 76ers moved out in 1996 but the Spectrum was used by the Flyers’ minor-league team and for concerts until last year.
“Long overdue,” Murray said of the building’s demise. “It was a great building to play in. it was great for the fans. But you can’t stop progress. It’s time to move on.
“I opened this building when I came as coach of the Flyers. It was incredible when you walked over from that building to this when they were still under construction and to see the size of the place. It was incredible how it ever got done.”
“It’s hard to make any change after the way everybody performed last night. It was a great team effort,” he said.
Rookie Andrei Loktionov, a natural center who had been moved to left wing, will stay in the middle -- where even Murray conceded Loktionov should play.
“He’s more comfortable. Played well,” Murray said. “His reads off his wingers are very instinctive. He’s got his feet moving. He’s on the go all the time. He’s got a great stick. He knocked down a lot of pucks in the middle of the ice on the checking part of the game. You know he’s not going to be a hard, physical guy so he has to do other things and that’s the part that he does very well.
“I think also with [Anze] Kopitar’s game, it was really good. He was working. He was on top of his ‘A’ game. And that helps a young guy like Loktionov to be able to go back in the middle and have that line going as well as they did.”
Check back later for more from the Wells Fargo Center.
Helene Elliott, in Philadelphia
Photo: Kings Coach Terry Murray during Thursday's game at Pittsburgh. Credit: Gene J. Puskar / Associated Press