Morning update

Just wanted everyone to know that Don Fulton will be at the press conference today for a full report on the hiring of Terry Murray.

Also, I got some loose, general information last night about Patrick O’Sullivan, and why a contract hasn’t gotten done yet. Seems as though it’s part of the bigger struggle between teams and agents/players regarding the value of younger players. Teams want long-term deals and agents want short-term deals, since salaries keep rising every year. It didn’t sound as though a lot of progress was being made, but it’s still only mid-July.

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Home opener announced

From the Kings…

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings will open their 2008-09 regular season home schedule at STAPLES Center on Sunday, October 12, against the San Jose Sharks at 6 p.m., the Kings and the NHL announced today.

In addition to the Kings-Sharks home game on October 12, the Kings/NHL today announced each club’s 2008-09 “at large” games against non-conference opponents: The Kings will play a “home-and-home series” as follows: The Kings host Washington on November 20 and visit Washington on February 5; the Kings host New Jersey on January 10 and visit New Jersey on February 7; and the Kings host Philadelphia on January 3 and visit Philadelphia on February 25.

The complete 2008-09 Kings/NHL schedule is to be released tomorrow, Thursday. The club’s first on-ice training camp session date is Saturday, September 20, at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo.

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RFAs sign

The Kings have signed restricted free agents Erik Ersberg, Gabe Gauthier, Matt Moulson and Joe Piskula to contracts for next season. I’ll try to get the terms and money for these deals, particularly Ersberg, since he was headed for arbitration. I’d have to guess Ersberg agreed to a two-year contract, but that’s just a guess.

UPDATE: Gauthier signed a two-year contract. Ersberg, Moulson and Piskula signed one-year contracts.

No announcement of a Terry Murray hiring yet. I’m doing my best to stay on top of updates here, and for about 23 hours a day, I’m blissfully ignorant of goofy Internet rumors.

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Why Terry Murray?

Only the final details stand between the Kings officially hiring Terry Murray. An announcement could come as soon as tomorrow. So that raises the question, “why Terry Murray?” He fits two of Dean Lombardi’s two qualifications. He’s a defenseman, and Lombardi understands the importance of developing the Kings’ young defensemen, particularly next season, when there could be a handful of kids on the blue line. He’s also familiar to Lombardi, since they were employed by the Flyers at the same time. As a bonus, Murray has won. He showed a sustained ability to get his team to the playoffs and took one, the 1996-97 Flyers, to the Stanley Cup Finals.

On the other hand… there seems to be some surprise that the Kings would hire a coach who has been fired three times, and an older coach. Murray turns 58 on Sunday. That certainly doesn’t disqualify him from mentoring younger players, but the thought seemed to be that Lombardi would look toward a coach who had recent experience coaching young players, maybe even a coach without NHL head coaching experience.

One popular name that came up in a few e-mails and comments was Dale Hunter. The Kings did not interview him.

So what does everyone think of Terry Murray?

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Lombardi statement

Dean Lombardi’s statement: “We are aware of some media reports as it relates to Terry Murray and our head coaching vacancy. At this time, no agreement is in place with him. However, we have met with Terry on more than one occasion and we consider him to be a strong candidate for this position. We will have no further comment at this time.”

Translation: We’ll be preparing the room for the press conference shortly.

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Coaching update

The story is making the rounds that Terry Murray is about to be hired as Kings coach. Since I’m on vacation, I’m very much trying to chase this story, but a source within the Kings just indicated that Murray is a candidate but that there is no deal in place. I expect to have some sort of comment from Dean Lombardi, hopefully soon, but I think it’s safe to say you can read between the lines on this one. Unless something falls through in negotiations, it looks like another Murray (unrelated) in charge of the Kings.

I was told, my a source, to look at people whose past intertwined with Lombardi’s, either in San Jose or Philadelphia. Murray was an assistant coach for the Flyers when Lombardi worked for them as a scout.

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