Any time a team goes through a rough stretch, the “hot seat’’ enters the coach’s room. The process is accelerated, of course, when a team saddled with high expectations does not match them. Terry Murray, a member of the coaching fraternity since the early 1980s, is no stranger to this, so he can’t be surprised to see his name surface in potential-firing reports, with the Kings now sitting in 12th place in the Western Conference. Murray has twice been fired mid-season, by Washington and Florida, and he was on the other side of it, taking over for his brother, Bryan, who was fired in Washington during the 1989-90 season. Today, Murray was asked whether hearing his name surface in firing reports makes it more difficult to do his job on a day-to-day basis…
MURRAY: “No, it doesn’t make it any more difficult. We’re trying to win hockey games. I’m going to approach every game and every practice the same as if we had seven or eight wins in a row. You want to win the next one. So that’s the approach that I take every day, every game. I like the way we’re playing. The effort, the compete, the intensity, the chances that we’re getting, everything is in place. We just have to find a way to get a `W.’
“We had a meeting here before practice. We have to know that we are playing good. That’s why I want to show it and talk about it. You know, with a young group of guys, you want them to go on the ice and have some fun with the game, too. You want to play instinctive hockey and not become, in any sense, a robotic team, where you’re so stationary and hesitant that now you do look really out of place. We want to play the right way, play instinctively, and get after the puck, hunt it down and make sure we’re doing the right things. I think that’s where we’re at.’’
To that end, perhaps getting on the road is a good thing for the Kings. Being at home certainly was not. The Kings were in California for three weeks straight — including one trip to Anaheim — went 2-5-0 and didn’t score more than two goals in a single game.
MURRAY: “It was a long time at home. I guess they felt sorry for us, after the European trip, and wanted to give us some games there. We’re a good road hockey club. We’ve been able to show that over the time that I’ve been here. We played extremely well in the month of February, last year, in a difficult time. That’s what we need to start to get back to right now, is playing a more relaxed game, in the sense that you don’t have to feel the need to put on a show. I don’t know if that’s part of the issue with us or not, but when I take a look at our home games, over last year and this year, there seems to be something, emotionally, that we need to deal with a lot better, to play that relaxed game.’’