Here, Terry Murray talks primarily about leadership, how he believes he can turn around the losing culture of the Kings, how he thinks he can help players develop and, perhaps most importantly, how he will go about selecting the team’s captain and assistant captains…
Question: You talked about the need to change the culture here, which is something Dean has talked a lot about also. Is there a formula to that? Can you sit down, from day one, and say, `This is what needs to change’? Or is it just a slow process?
MURRAY: It is a process, there’s no doubt, but there can be changes. I don’t want to get into comparing what I’m going to do to what has happened here. That’s not the right thing and I don’t deal that way. I don’t want to talk about that stuff, because everybody has their own way. There’s lots of different styles and systems and philosophies, in all sports, that do and don’t work. But when it comes to changing a culture, you’re dealing with people. You’re dealing with people and their habits and how they think and how they act. Putting rules in place and holding players accountable are the immediate things that you can do as a coach. There is a standard of play, there is a standard of professionalism that you put in place as a new coach coming in. That’s the beginning of it, and then you just work from there. Then you get on the ice and you put your system in place and your style of play in place and, again, you hold players accountable in all those different areas, to show that we’re professionals, we’re a professional hockey team. We want to build this thing from where we are today to get to a point where we can compete at a high level and be a successful franchise.
Question: You have a number of guys who are 25 or 26, in that age group, who are on the cusp of perhaps being veteran leaders. How do you best handle them — guys like Brown, Frolov and O’Sullivan — to help them take that next step?
MURRAY: All of the players are just a step away from getting to that next level. For me, the important part is having a leadership group. You mentioned Brownie’s name and Frolov, and there’s Handzus, who I know and I know what kind of player he is and what kind of intensity he brings. I’ve got to pull a group of guys, whether it’s five or six players I’m not sure yet, I don’t know exactly the number yet, who are going to form my leadership group. To me, that’s very important as a coach, to have players I can pull in, sit down and have a relationship with and communication with, so that I can voice my issues and they bring it my way from their side of it. They need to carry the message from the coaches’ office into the locker room, to help bring those younger players in the right direction.
That is one of the number one things that I’ll look to do as we get started in training camp. Hopefully in the days going into training camp, most players are going to be around. I know they don’t have to be, but I hope that they will be around so I can start the process before we get to the beginning of training camp. Because the attitude in the locker room and the approach that all the players are going to take onto the ice and how they execute and the level of intensity they will bring to training camp and to set a good standard, that’s going to be real important, and that always comes from the players, and it comes primarily from the leadership group that you establish.
Question: Talking about leadership, nobody currently on the roster has ever had a letter on his sweater as a King. What qualities are you going to be looking for in this leadership group?
MURRAY: I think it’s players who have had experience and who have had success in the game. I think that’s the number one thing. Character guys. When we’re talking about guys playing in the NHL and playing on the L.A. Kings, all these guys are high-character players. I know that. The scouting staff and the amateur scouts go through such a long and rigorous process of interviews, and they’re finding good and talented players but also good people, people who want to learn and want to become real good hockey players and be successful in this league. To me, it will be players who have the experience of being around this team, or coming in from another organization who have had success with their team. Maybe they’ve been a captain of another team. Those are important qualities, I think, for me, rather than looking at a couple young guys and trying to develop them. It’s going to be so important that the experience is front and center in the locker room, people who know what to do, and how to do it, when something is asked for, whether it’s on the ice in practice, to dig in a little bit more and work harder, to being dressed as a professional when we travel, to dealing with the media, to being available to do the right things so that everyone is helping out in the process.