JF: You have so much experience at so many different levels, in so many different leagues, so I’m going to ask you to kind of compare/contrast the following…let’s start with pros vs. amateurs?
Andy Murray: To me, there’s no difference and you’ve (alluding to the questioner) been in NHL dressing rooms and you’ve sat there and you’ve been a player and you’ve seen it from that other side too–but to me, I don’t think there’s any difference. They ask me the difference—‘you know it must be great coaching the college guys the guys are all excited and enthused to play’ and I say ‘I don’t see NHL players as any different’. To me, NHL players are excited and want to play every game–there’s one difference, we play two games a weeks, Friday and Saturday. Sometimes the NHL players are playing three games in four nights or three in five or four in six–it’s tough for them because they’re never healthy and always traveling but the idea that amateur players care more and have more passion than the pro players, I don’t agree with that at all. All of the pro players that I have had, and even the ones that I probably wouldn’t like necessarily but they want to play and they want to play hard and they want to win so I really don’t think there’s any difference and on the other side of it, everybody said that these guys are making so much money and that has no difference either. Guys care at the NHL level just as much as the college guys do and they want to have fun and enjoy the game just as much and by the same token, people say that you can probably do a lot more things in the pros than at the college level–but that’s not true either because our players (WMU) are good players…
…they have skill and ability and I think coaching them and dealing with them is exactly the same with the pros–again bottom line is you have to coach within your own personality and coach the way you are and as soon as you start changing that then you’re going to have troubles so to me, I don’t see any difference to be honest with you, I think coaches that try to change at a different levels are making a mistake, I don’t know if that answers your question or not–I mean, everybody says that it must be—I use bit of a joke here, I’ve used before. Ruth (Andy’s wife) just got here (Andy was waiting for Ruth as she went shopping) and she’s heard it a few times but–people always say when I went the college route it must so nice, it must be a perfect place because you don’t have to deal with agents and that type of thing and I said well, yeah but at college you have to deal with the parents so probably the only perfect place to coach would be at an orphanage. So I don’t see any real difference I mean I’m dealing with top-level players right now, probably we have five guys that have a real good chance to play in the NHL. So we have some quality players, the rest will certainly have an opportunity to play pro someplace.
JF: Compare/Contrast…regular season then playoffs versus a tournament format?
Andy Murray: Yeah that’s a good question. I think there’s no question that a tournament format, playoff format are very similar in the sense that focus and everything else is so intense and in a tournament format you virtually cannot lose–you have to keep winning and that’s the same scenario in a playoff situation–you don’t have a lot of recovery time–you have to park a game and move on to the next one right away, certainly I think the intensity level of a short term tournament or the playoffs are very similar–in the regular season there’s that probably that feeling that there’s still time where the playoffs and tournament it’s got to happen and the way it is now in the NHL or college there’s so much parity—every game is so important but certainly the intensity level, one season playoffs or tournament plays is more than regular season.
JF: …maybe not as much now as there used to be, but what are some of the differences–international game versus the North American game. The first thing that comes to mind is the ice surface size (NHL ice surface is smaller than International ice surface) but anything else that you can pinpoint?
Andy Murray: I think the rink makes it different–the ice size makes it different “if you let it”. Our approach was always–we weren’t going to change and I’ve seen some teams go to worlds and international events and they try and change their game based on the big ice and I see coaches doing things they wouldn’t do back home and so on and that’s not the way we play the game and you have to play the game the way your players are used to and familiar with–so we always looked at the game “between the dots” because “between the dots” internationally or over here (North America) it’s the same—if you did the “Hoosiers thing” from the movie where you measure the distance from the basket to the floor–we used to do it before we went over to Europe with our young national team–we’d measure between the dots and the distance between the dots is the same so to me the ice surface is a difference if you let it but to me we just play the game defensively between the dots and offensively we had to get it too–and by the way the game is way better on small ice then big ice a game on hockey on big ice is terrible as far as I’m concerned if you let it be played on big ice and you want to just cycle in the corners and let them have the outside I bet that’s one of the reasons we maybe did have some success is with the teams over there we played a game that was really basic between the dots and we are able to play a familiar game but I mean, refereeing is certainly different you’ve got to have a patience level and we all complain about the fishing over here but it goes to a different level internationally. No question I mean you’ve got referee’s from different countries that are refereeing under different guidelines for their different leagues and you don’t know what you’re going to get for refereeing so to me it’s very important that if you’re at an international event the discipline and patience have to be a key part of the game plan. What else? Not a lot now because really hockey has become an international game with so many, you got right now in the KHL for example Fedorov called me the other day about taking the job with Red Army and he said I got Datsyuk and Radulov…
…and different guys over here (KHL), he said we need a North American coach, they’re not used to the Russian coaches anymore so it’s interesting because most cases it’s become an international game and the game is very similar.