December 28, 2012 12:45 pm

Catching up with…Andy Murray! (Part 1)

We know Andy Murray as the all-time leader in wins as coach in Los Angeles Kings history (215 wins from 1999-2006), but he has had a long and successful coaching career, as an assistant, head coach or as a consultant, at so many different levels (Canadian College, U.S. prep School, European Leagues, Canadian National team with numerous tournaments as well as World Championships and Olympic games, NHL and now U.S. College).  I caught up with Andy just before Christmas while he was spending some time off in Florida with his wife Ruth during the college Christmas break and we chatted about some of the things he has accomplished in the past, but we started with his current position as head coach at Western Michigan University

JF: My first question is just getting us up to speed.  On July 26, 2011 you were named head coach of Western Michigan University.  Last season you were CCHA tournament champions…as we speak, WMU is rated top ten.  Please go back to the decision and take us through the process of choosing the US college route.

Andy Murray: Well first of all it caught a few people by surprise.  I just had bought this home in Florida and I had been asked to look at a couple of NHL jobs and decided I wasn’t going to and I’d actually agreed to be a consultant–and then I was going to be a health consultant with a Swiss Hockey FederationBrady’s there…

…and Jordy was playing—I did a little work with their national team and a few guys that I coached in the NHL, Jamal Mayers in particular, who had played with Western and a few other guys that had played there called me said ‘coach we’d like you to go and consider this possibility at Western Michigan’…

…and it’s something where I’ve said that it’s kind of on my bucket list of things that I hadn’t done yet and I’d always been a fan of college sports–football and everything about the atmosphere and I having my three kids (Brady, Sarah, Jordy) all play college hockey…

…I didn’t get to see many games but I watched quite a few on the computer and that type of thing.  I always respected the college coaches and thought it would be great and I also thought you only live once and you’ve got to try it all and I thought I would regret it if I didn’t try so I went to the school campus–I was fortunate enough they offered me a job and I came back home and I walked in the door and Ruth (Andy’s wife) said ‘we are not going to Florida’—(we bought this place two years ago, from the day I bought it, it’s the second time I’ve seen it.  We had four days off for the Christmas break so we came down here)–but really it was just something as I said ‘you only live once’ and it was something I had on my bucket list that I’d love to try and be in the college environment–I mean, I get sideline passes to the football games and the basketball games and the women’s volleyball.  Ruth and I go all the time there, it’s helped keep me young as well and I’ve enjoyed it—our team has fortunately been successful, we finished tied for second in the regular season which was actually a bit of a surprise, more surprising that we ended up winning the tournament but we’re it’s been enjoyable.

JF: I’ve always thought about this–I’ve never been in this situation certainly as a coach or even as a recruit.  I’m sure there are many, but what point do you feel you need to get across when speaking to the parents of a recruit?

Andy Murray: Bottom line is that we’ll do things the right way.  First of all, if we offer somebody a scholarship; they’re getting a scholarship–we’re not pulling scholarships off the table and that type of thing.  You hear lots of stories where schools are out offering scholarships and all of a sudden they decide they don’t want the player and just dump them.  But to me I think the bottom line is we will do things the right way.  Another thing I do–parents will ask me ‘what’s your scholarship package’ and I’ve told our assistants right from the get go but we don’t talk scholarship until we know a player wants to be a Bronco–first of all, we only recruit players we want and once we have a player in and that player says ‘coach I’d love to be a Bronco’ then it’s up to us to find a scholarship package that fits their family’s needs.  So I think honesty and being forthright, letting them know that we want players that want to be part of the program–you’ve heard me say many times, ‘we’re demanding but we don’t have a demeaning coaching style’, we demand a lot of players, in the classroom and on the ice and if you’re willing to be a part of that package and commit to it we’d love to have you.  So I think its honesty.  I’ve fortunately got a bit of a track record where they don’t have to go very far to check into my coaching style–I don’t push the NHL side–I know my assistants do, quite a bit in the sense that they talk about ‘he knows what it takes to get to the next level’ and so on, but really we just sell our school and we sell the integrity of our program and we do things the right way and that we’ll communicate with their sons everyday and let them know exactly what our expectations are and how they need to adhere to those expectations.  Bottom line is just honesty.  And we’ve got a great school, great academic school, we’ve got a passionate fan base, it’s the loudest building in hockey, I’d actually love for you and Bob to come and call a game their sometime…

…it’s crazy, it’s the loudest building in hockey and I’ve been in some really loud buildings and it’s just crazy and we’ve never lost a recruit that’s come on to watch a game at Lawson Arena, when they see the atmosphere and what it’s like, they truly get excited.

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