Going back to the Frolov situation — it was fun taking a break for a couple hours, right? — Terry Murray talked today about benching players, and star players in particular, and what he tries to accomplish when he does it. It’s less about Frolov and more about Murray’s philosophy in these situations, although at the end he does talk about whether Frolov was unhappy in his role…
Question: In your past coaching stops, have you benched a player of that caliber before?
MURRAY: “I have. Yes, I have.”
Question: Do you remember who?
MURRAY: “Well, yes I can remember. I don’t want to get into names, necessarily, but it has happened. It happened with important players. It happened with key players on teams, yes. And again, I’m not trying to butt heads with anybody. I’m trying to get players to be the best they can be, and I’m trying to put demands on players, that this is what the L.A. Kings need to do in order to be succesful. I’ve always believed, as I already mentioned, that no one is bigger than the team. This is about 23 guys buying in, being on (the same) page and working hard for each other and looking at each other in the eye, after the game is over, and saying, `I did my best out there for you tonight.’ And I’ve got to have that, or we’re taking a big step backward. That’s the only reason I would take a good player out, because I need more.”
Question: In the past, did it get the results you hoped for, or does it vary from case to case?
MURRAY: “You always get a big push right away. The player gets back in and wants to prove to himself, to his teammates, to the team, that, `Yeah, I’m ready to play,’ and has solid performances over the next half a dozen games. Sometimes there’s another little step backward, where you need to have a little meeting to remind the player of, `Hey, remember the commitment we talked about? Let’s get back on page here and get going again.’ Sometimes there’s some habits, sometimes stuff happens that a player is not even aware of. As a player, I needed to have people talk to me sometimes, and tell me I needed to get my butt in gear and get going again. So that’s just part of the process of bringing talent out of a very talented player.”
Question: Do you expect that message to come from the locker room as well? Is it up to Brown or other veterans to say, “You have to step up or step off”?
MURRAY: “No, I don’t really expect that. I don’t think that’s their responsibility, to get other players going. In general, the leadership group, captains (say), `We need this one here, guys.’ Maybe sometimes you go over and talk to an individual and say, `Hey, how about seven or eight shots on net here tonight?’ or `We need some big hits from you here tonight,’ that kind of encouragement. But it’s not their responsibility to motivate the individual player. That’s the coach’s responsibility, but that’s an individual player’s responsibility too. You, as a player sitting in the locker room, you know your commitment to the teammates and know what you have to do in order to play the game. So, motivating is an inward thing also.”
Question: Did you get a sense that Fro was unhappy with his previous role, or are these line changes independent of that?
MURRAY: “I think it’s independent of that. I sat down at the start of the year, in training camp, and reviewed the roles with Fro, and what my expectations were. This is a huge year for Fro, too, and I’ve said this to him, going back before the season started. This is his contract year. It’s a big year, an important year. I want him to have success. He’s on a line with Zeus.
“In that role of playing against the top lines of the opposing team, you’re getting a lot of minutes, you’re the second-most minutes on the team, probably, outside of the top line, and you’re going to have the puck a lot if you do the right stuff on the checking side of it. You’re going to have great scoring opportunities. There was no problem, at that time, with the role that I was reading. I just hope that things work out, and that he finds himself here right now, because he’s a very important part of his team.”