Here’s the full, long interview with Terry Murray, touching on today’s meetings, line changes, panic, the standings and Matt Greene…
Question: What was the thought behind the meetings today? It’s probably not a coincidence that they came after the last couple games, right?
MURRAY: “It’s like the deal I went through last year, at the halfway mark. But there’s no misleading you in saying that the last couple games, the results, are probably the reason why (the meetings were done) today.”
Question: Was there a general message in each of the meetings?
MURRAY: “The concern is that we’re in a nice part of the schedule here, with these home games, and it’s important that we go out and play the right way. Right now, we’re going to be without Greene for a little bit too. With Drewiske out, and we’re just getting Jonesy back into the lineup after missing several weeks with his injury, I’m just trying to bring a real focus to a type of game, a style of game, that we need to implement and be consistent with it.
It really will not change when we’re back to full health on the back end either. We want to have a focus on our checking part of the game. It’s going to be really important that we do the right stuff, shift in and shift out, and stay consistent with that. And I think if everybody follows through, and there’s that peer pressure within the locker room and on the bench, we can pull things back together here pretty quickly.”
Question: The fact that you’ve been able to play well, and at times very well, even in games that you end up losing, what does that tell you about the team? Is it more of a mental thing? Consistency?
MURRAY: “To me, that is the emotional side of the game. That’s the next big hurdle, big step, that you have to take as a player to break through, and as a team. You need to have the mental approach and the mental toughness to deal with adversity that comes up in a game, any game. There’s certainly times when you’re going to be down and you’re going to have to find a way to battle back. But the most important part of it is that you’re all doing the same thing, shift after shift.
“That is critical. All the good teams that have become championship teams are very repetitious in their fundamentals. In their system play, they know, each shift, what’s going to happen, what to expect, and they follow through with it, no matter what the score is. If you do that same stuff in your structure and your system, and your attitude is that you’re going to stay with it, then over the long haul, in any sport, you’re going to win more. You’re going to win, in some situations, a lot more, and that’s how you become a champion.
“Again, to me, that’s the biggest hurdle, and the next big hurdle that we have to find a way to get through here, and understand and get a real solid hold on the concept of doing things the right way, no matter what the circumstance.”
Question: I would imagine that, as a coach, the worst thing you can do is create a sense of panic, but I also imagine that it’s important to bring some urgency to these games, especially this homestand…
MURRAY: “Well, I think you avoid any panic scenario by following through with small-group meetings. You can create panic in your locker room at the end of a period or after a game or whatever, and almost be in a panic yourself in sending a message. Really, nothing good comes out of that, most of the time. You, as a coach, feel better maybe, because you got it off your chest, but the players certainly don’t. My feeling is, when you get it in a smaller group, or even down to the individual level, and you’re sitting there listening more than talking, you come away with a pretty good understanding, at the end, of what it is that you need and what they need to do. The message gets across, to me, over the years, in my experience.”
Question: Knowing that there are still three months left in the season, and knowing how much can change, is there something, emotionally, to staying in the top eight? Is there an emotional factor there, in terms of players holding down that playoff spot?
MURRAY: “Yes, there is. That’s an important part of it, that you’re right there, you’re in the hunt, you’re in the race right now. Today, we’re in, and you want to stay in. You want to stay in through the whole process. In saying that, though, you go through times when you’re out of the race by only a couple of points or a couple of games, and still you have that same hunger and you feel good about your game. Everybody does understand how competitive it is out there. In the long haul, for me it is important to stay in that attitude of, `We’re in, and we have to hold onto it.”’
Question: You made some significant line changes today. Is that something you plan on going with in the game tomorrow?
MURRAY: “It’s something I planned. I thought about it, from the end of the game last night and even before the end of the game, because I did make changes within the game. I talked about it with the players here today. I brought the players in as the lines that started the game yesterday. Then I went through the explanation of, `Today you were on a different line in practice, each one of you, and here’s what my thought process is.’ It’s to grab attention.
“It’s a change. A change for the sake of change, but there is a purpose to it, to get attention back to you individually and to the line, to think about reasons and talk about reasons why the line was broken up in the game. I know the guys like to play with each other the way it has been set up over the last several games. I want them to talk about what they need to do now, as a group, in order to make it work for them again. I think any time you can put some thought into it, with the four of us, and talk about it and get stuff out that’s going to be effective for them, and giving them my thought about why I made the change, we get on the same page. I’m hoping it has some real bite to it and we can get back to a good level of play right away.”
Question: So you’ll go with those lines at the start of the game?
MURRAY: “My feeling is, right now, is that I’m going to go with the way it was at the end of practice here today, with the understanding that if individual players are doing the right thing, and I’m seeing a level of play, it might allow me to bring it back to what the line was (before). I do like the lines, the way they were set up. We won some games and there was some good chemistry with those lines.”
Question: You mentioned Greene being out. Did he get a further evaluation from doctors today?
MURRAY: “He didn’t get any more, but I think he’s going to have something done today. I think it’s today. He’s going to have an MRI done. He’s going to be out for a few games here. He’s going to miss a little time. We know that right now, but we’re going to get a better read and understanding as to exactly where it’s at.”
Question: Is this what he had been trying to play through over the last couple games, or is it something new?
MURRAY: “It’s something new. It’s something that happened in the last fight he had. Again, I’m not real sure as to the extent or anything. He’s going to be an MRI from our team doctor, and then we’ll have some more information on it.”