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Former coach Terry Murray: Kings could be team to reckon with

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Former Kings Coach Terry Murray, who was dismissed and replaced by Darryl Sutter last month, granted his first post-firing interview Wednesday.

He didn’t say anything inflammatory or even remotely controversial but acknowledged his disappointment over being let go. He also acknowledged that the power play’s struggles cost the team some games — and perhaps cost him his job. Here’s a link to a transcript that appears on the Kings’ website.

Murray did an excellent job installing a defensive foundation that remains the Kings’ best asset, but he took them as far as he could take them — and that wasn’t as far as General Manager Dean Lombardi thought they could go.

The team was stale offensively and had stalled. And though it isn’t always fair, sometimes players need to hear a new voice and be challenged in different ways. Sutter is allowing players to be more aggressive and pushing a more up-tempo game, and they seem to have responded.

They’re not scoring in great bunches — and might never do that, even if Lombardi makes a big move before the Feb. 27 trade deadline — but they did earn points in each of Sutter’s first eight games behind the bench and are 6-1-3 during his tenure.

One more note on Murray, with thanks to colleague Lisa Dillman: Murray has moved out of his South Bay home but it isn't standing empty. He made it available for rent and Sutter moved in this week.

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Best and worst of the NHL at the halfway point

— Helene Elliott

Photo: Former Kings coach Terry Murray, center, instructs his players during a game against the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 3. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

'Jolly Rancher' Darryl Sutter praised by former players

Coach1The Kings’ dismissal of Terry Murray has been big news around the NHL but has stirred quite a fuss in Calgary, home of Murray’s expected successor, Darryl Sutter.

Flames players had some interesting comments about Sutter, their former coach and general manager, in the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun. The consensus: the man doesn’t sugar-coat anything and drove them hard but players appreciated his honesty.

He can't arrive soon enough for the Kings, who on Tuesday lost their fifth straight game, a 3-0 defeat at Boston. They've scored only six goals in those five losses and have been shut out three times this season.

Sutter remains the Kings’ only candidate for the coaching job but some minor details are delaying the final details of his hiring. The Kings had to get permission from the Flames to talk to him and that was granted without complication.

It’s not clear if the deal with Sutter will be final in time for him to coach the Kings in their next game, Thursday at Columbus. Assistant coach John Stevens was put in charge on an interim basis for Tuesday’s loss at Boston, in which the performance and outcome were the same as they were under Murray's guidance. The trip continues Saturday at Detroit and Monday at Toronto.

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Clippers re-engage in trade talks for Chris Paul

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Darryl Sutter. Credit: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images

Kings fire Coach Terry Murray

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The Kings on Monday fired Coach Terry Murray, hoping to jolt the team out of a four-game losing streak and season-long scoring drought and back into playoff position.

General Manager Dean Lombardi flew to Boston on Monday to tell Murray in person. Murray, one win away from 500 in his career, conducted the team’s practice Monday morning at the TD Garden. His Kings record was 139-106-30 and he ranks third all time in wins among the franchise's coaches.

Lombardi was expected to comment during a conference call later Monday.

Assistant coach John Stevens was appointed interim coach. The Kings open a four-game trip Tuesday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

Murray took over as coach in 2008 and was charged with giving a foundering team a strong defensive foundation. He did that very well, but he was unable to coax consistent scoring out of a team that this season elevated its talent level by trading for Mike Richards and signing winger Simon Gagne as a free agent.

After scoring only six goals in losing their last four games, the Kings rank last in the NHL in goals per game, at 2.24, a disappointing showing given their decision this summer to spend nearly to the salary-cap limit and make a concerted charge at the Stanley Cup.

Stevens might be a candidate for the job on a permanent basis, but his philosophies are similar to Murray’s and so he might not bring about enough change. Lombardi has previously worked with Darryl Sutter, who was let go by the Calgary Flames a year ago, and Sutter is a potential candidate. Sources said the Kings have not requested permission from the Penguins to talk to assistant coach Tony Granato, a popular former King who coached in Colorado but struggled there.

More coverage later at www.latimes.com/sports

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Another loss for the Kings, who remain in search of an identity

 

--Helene Elliott

Photo: Kings Coach Terry Murray earlier this season. Credit: Ina Fassbender / Reuters.

 

Kings update: Mike Richards progressing; Ethan Moreau waived

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There was a small measure of progress regarding Kings center Mike Richards, who has been out with a head injury since Dec. 1. He skated after the team’s practice on Friday for about eight minutes.

Richards met with a team doctor Thursday, and was permitted to move forward with his recovery program, according to Kings Coach Terry Murray. He is out with a suspected concussion even though the Kings have not used that terminology.  

 “The only thing I can say about him is that he's been given the green light to do more,” Murray said, following practice in El Segundo. “He’s on the ice today. He rode the bike harder today ... the off-ice workouts.

 “Once you get through that part, the positive was seeing him going out on the ice. That’s a positive to me. Clearly, now the indication is that everything was good on the off-ice workout. So that’s the next step.”

Teammate and defenseman Willie Mitchell is all too familiar with the issues Richards has been facing, having been sidelined for a significant period because of post-concussion symptoms when he was with the Canucks. Richards has missed three games.

“I don’t talk to him [Richards] too much about it,” Mitchell said. “If everyone is asking him, ‘How are you doing? How are you doing? How are you doing?’ He’s going to be in a stressful state. He’s not going to get healthy.

“I kind of leave him be. I talked to him once about my experience and just said, ‘Be smart. Take your time. Don’t sit there and push it, right?’ Because you are seeing it with guys all around the league, guys that push it, there are recurrences to it.

“And first and foremost is his health. If he doesn’t have his health, he’s not going to be good to me, as a teammate or to the L.A. Kings. I don’t want to see any of my peers going through what he’s doing. I don’t wish that upon anyone. I’ve been there; it’s not fun. You worry about your life, your quality of life going on forward.”

With Mitchell coming off injured reserve, the Kings waived forward Ethan Moreau. Moreau, who was signed as a free agent in August, had four points in 28 games.

 “We have to create an opening for [Mitchell] and had to make a hard decision,” Murray said.

“I needed a little bit more from him. He’s a great veteran guy. Look, he’s been a captain. ... He’s a high character guy. I think his leadership in the locker room, in a quiet way, was very effective. And he gave us everything he could.”

ALSO:

Terry Murray talks about dangerous play

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Ex-Ducks coach Randy Carlyle: Experience was positive, firing wasn't

-- Lisa Dillman

Photo: Kings center Mike Richards takes a shot against against Florida last week. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images

Kings after deadline: Terry Murray talks about 'dangerous play'

Anze3There was more than a flash of concern when the Kings' Anze Kopitar went down for a couple of minutes, via a nasty hit delivered from Minnesota's Kyle Brodziak in the second period on Thursday night.

Brodziak received a five-minute major for boarding and automatic game misconduct. Kopitar finally left the ice under his own power, hunched over, and would return fairly quickly, on the subsequent power play.

Kings Coach Terry Murray had some blunt observations on the play after the Wild beat the Kings, 4-2.

"I was worried about that one," he said. "That's a very dangerous play. You get cross-checked into the boards like that, I've seen too many players blow their knees, break their legs in those situations. I was very concerned about that one."

In fact, King defenseman Alec Martinez was injured when he was taken hard into the boards (by Warren Peters) in the last game against Minnesota at Staples Center on Nov. 12. Although Martinez later returned in that game and scored, he has been out of the lineup since then because of an upper-body injury.

Murray termed the intent behind those type of hits a lack of "respect," speaking in a broader sense.

"You know what, I watch games around the league, and it's a concern that it happens as often as it does. I don't get it. I don't get the attitude, the mentality of the players today. The lack of respect and the jeopardy they're putting their fellow [players] in. In my generation, that never happened."

ALSO:

Revamped ticket pricing for Anaheim Ducks 

Ex-Ducks coach Randy Carlyle: Experience was positive, firing wasn't

-- Lisa Dillman

Photo: Kings center Anze Kopitar warms up prior to the Kings' 4-2 loss Thursday to the Minnesota Wild. Credit: Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire

News and notes from Kings' 2-0 victory over the Sharks

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Notes and quotes from the Kings’ 2-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center on Monday:

• The last time the Kings shut out the Sharks at home was March 23, 2002 (3-0).

• Jonathan Quick earned his 18th career shutout and fourth this season. He ranks second in Kings history in shutouts behind Rogie Vachon, who had 32.

• Quick played in his 200th career game Monday, all with the Kings. He’s the sixth goaltender in Kings history to play in 200 games.

• Mike Richards has goals in eight of the last 10 games (9-1--10) and has 18 points in the last 21 games (10-8--18). The Kings are 11-2-2 when Richards records a point.

• Simon Gagne has seven points in the last 10 games (3-4--7)

• Ethan Moreau scored for the first time since Oct. 9, 2010, at San Jose.

• The Kings are 5-2-1 in their last eight games

• The Kings are 6-1-2 vs. the Pacific Division

• The Kings have killed 18 straight penalties, dating back to Nov. 19 vs. Detroit

• The Kings are 9-1-1 when allowing two or fewer goals in a game

• The Kings are 9-2-3 when scoring first

•  Scott Parse is expected to travel to Nashville soon to have his hip evaluated by a specialist.  At that time, a decision is expected to be made whether to have surgery on his hip.  A surgical procedure could sideline Parse for approximately four months.

The Kings are scheduled to practice Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo and then visit Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Kings Coach Terry Murray

On the game: “We had a good feel here tonight, there was good energy and emotion in the game and it got exciting at the end…. There was a real good response to the game against Chicago the other night, we needed to come out fast, we needed to come out with energy and set the tone, and I thought we did. There was a good carryover into the second period. I thought Quick did a tremendous job. That should have been a nice extra boost of energy to start the third period."

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Terry Murray welcomes Dale Hunter to NHL coaching ranks

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Kings Coach Terry Murray has fond memories of Dale Hunter, who was hired Monday to succeed Bruce Boudreau as coach of the Washington Capitals.

Hunter, as sneaky-dirty a player as ever laced up skates — but talented enough to score more than 1,000 points — played for the Capitals when Murray was an assistant coach and, later, the team’s coach. Murray recalled the 1987 draft-day deal Washington made with Quebec to get Hunter.

“The draft was in Detroit, and we made a trade at the draft table,” Murray said before the Kings faced the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center. “He came out of the stands and he could hardly walk. He’s limping so bad, and we’re kind of ‘What’s going on here?’

“He had broken his leg near the end of the year and came back and played in the playoffs for the Nordiques. And basically everybody felt he was done because his play was so poor but he had a broken leg still. He came to our table and we welcomed him and we were very happy to have him. It was a good deal for the Washington Capitals.”

Murray recalled Hunter’s skills as clearly as his toughness.

“He was a really good player,” Murray said. “You look back at his stats in Quebec: Michel Goulet was a 50-goal scorer, and that was his left winger. For me he played a skill game but with that edge, that grit, that hard play and actually outright mean sometimes.”

Just ask Pierre Turgeon how mean Hunter was. Hunter viciously checked Turgeon, then with the New York Islanders, after Turgeon scored a goal in the 1993 playoffs and left Turgeon with a separated shoulder. Hunter was suspended for the first 21 games of the 1993-94 season.

“There’s a lot of players you can ask,” Murray said. “He played hard. He played the same on the road and at home. He was a great player, great teammate and he played a long time because of that.”

Murray expects Hunter to bring the same fire to coaching the Capitals.

“He’ll demand stuff be done the right way,” Murray said. “You’ve got to play hard. You’ve got to compete. That’s Dale’s MO. He always did that every day. His reputation, his emotion, he’s got a lot of history in coaching right now. Been at the job for a long time. He’s a good fit for them.”

Boudreau joined Carolina’s Paul Maurice on the unemployment line Monday when the Hurricanes replaced Maurice with former NHL forward Kirk Muller. Murray said the lack of security in his chosen profession hit him as he entered Staples Center Monday and encountered Sharks Coach Todd McLellan as they went through security.

“He said, ‘To get 1,000 games in this game today, man, we just had two more guys go down today,’” Murray said. “It’s a tough business. But it is the business and sometimes that’s what needs to be done in the GM’s eyes.”

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Capitals Coach Dale Hunter runs practice on Monday at the team's training facility in Arlington, Va. Credit: Patrick McDermott / Getty Images

Kings after deadline: Notes and quotes about 5-2 win over Wild

Kings-colin_275Kings Coach Terry Murray on his 1,000th game:

"It doesn't really feel any different, anything special. It's a game that was very important for us to win."

Murray had more to say about his first game as a head coach in the NHL, when he replaced his brother Bryan as Washington's coach in 1990.

"Everything. I remember everything," Murray said. "It was like it happened two years ago. Time goes too fast, doesn't it? It was difficult because in the sense I was replacing my brother. That was hard. I was there as his assistant for six years. I was prepared for an opportunity.

"When I got the phone call, he (GM David Poile) said, 'I just want you to know that a change has been made already. It happened three hours ago. So here’s the deal: If you want to be the head coach, I want you to have the job. If you say no, somebody else is going to get the job.'

“He (Bryan) supported me 100 percent. He was totally on board with me being the person who was selected. I moved forward from there."

Center Colin Fraser, who scored his first goal as a King:

"It feels like a big weight off my shoulders. It was a huge relief. Scoring goals any time feels good. It’s especially good  because of the issues with my foot."

RELATED:

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Helene Elliott: Pluses and minuses around the league

Helene Elliott: Kings need to make some noise or they will hear it

--Lisa Dillman

Photo: Colin Fraser, right, celebrates his first goal as a member of the Kings on Saturday night. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

Dustin Penner loses a point, Colin Fraser gains a roster spot

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The more things change, the fewer points left wing Dustin Penner has.

The Kings announced Thursday that a video review of their third goal against Nashville on Tuesday showed that Penner should not have gotten an assist on the play and it was taken away from him, negating what appeared to be his first multi-point game as a King.

According to a statement released by the team, the review showed “that Penner lifted the stick of a Nashville player but never did touch the puck as the puck moved up the ice.” The assist he originally got was given to Willie Mitchell.

That doesn’t change the fact Penner played a solid game for the second successive night, after a strong effort at San Jose on Monday.

“He’s played better here the last three games. I really like his energy and I like the way he’s starting to move around the ice,” Kings Coach Terry Murray said before his team faced the defending West champion Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night at Staples Center.

“Much more confident, much more with authority. He’s in an athletic position. He’s got his knees bent and he’s playing both ways. And with that kind of work I think everything will get on track in the offensive part of it.”

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Kings after deadline: Notes and quotes from the Kings' 4-3 victory over Nashville

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Kings Coach Terry Murray, assessing his team's first win in six games:

“The effort was really good. You are playing a game last night in San Jose, a hard game, and you’ve got a team that’s sitting here fresh watching the game on television and I thought we came out and played a real good first period. I liked the energy, I liked the compete, the tempo and the attitude that we started the game with, and it had a little ebb and flow, I thought, but at the end of the day the compete was very good.”

On Simon Gagne and Mike Richards, who each scored a goal: “If you want to put them on a scale of 1  through 5, I’d give them a 4. They’ve made an adjustment in their life to come to the West Coast and be an L.A. King. That always takes time to get settled with family and kids, and you’ve got other things going on in your life. They are real pros in that they come to the rink every day and they are in their own little sanctuary and come and be good teammates and learning to be members of the team and the style, the culture that we are putting together here. So, that part there gets a 5 in my opinion and their play is a 4. They put points up on the board and they’ve been great pros to help us keep moving through it.”

On the extent of Scott Parse's lower-body injury, which the winger suffered in the first period: "A little more than day-to-day.”

Jarrett Stoll's two assists gave him 300 career points....The last time the Kings scored more than two goals was Oct. 27 at Dallas (their last win before Tuesday)....The Kings have won five of the last six meetings with Nashville.

Continue reading »

Did change of scenery make the difference for former King Teddy Purcell?

Photo: Teddy Purcell celebrates his second period goal with Brett Clark of the Tampa Bay Lightning on May 25. Credit: Eliot J. Schechter / Getty Images. Winger Teddy Purcell has become a star in the Tampa Bay Lightning's Eastern Conference playoff series against the Boston Bruins, scoring five goals in helping to carry his team to a decisive seventh game Friday night in Boston.

Kings fans can only shake their heads at his success, remembering the long droughts Purcell endured during his time with the Kings.

Purcell scored four goals in 40 games during the 2008-09 season and three in 41 games in 2009-10 before being traded to Tampa Bay with a third-round draft pick for center Jeff Halpern. The Lightning clearly got the best of that deal: Halpern left the Kings as a free agent after scoring no goals and contributing only two assists in 16 games. The Lightning drafted Brock Beukeboom with that draft pick but later traded him to St. Louis for key defenseman Eric Brewer.

I asked Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi for his thoughts on Purcell’s feats with the Lightning, but Lombardi forwarded my request to Coach Terry Murray, who was kind enough to call from his offseason home in Maine.

Continue reading »
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