Murray, on strength and toughness

Toughness seemed to be an area of great concerned in terms of the Kings, and Terry Murray talks about it here, in terms of his emphasis on having a well-conditioned team and the importance of having a team that doesn’t allow itself to get pushed around. Here’s what Murray had to say…

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Question: When you were hired, you said one of your first priorities would be to talk to the strength coach. Were you able to do that? What were you looking for and what did you hear?

MURRAY: When you play in the NHL, or play at the pro level, you get drafted because you have character and you have skills, but are you physically mature enough to be able to play and compete at a high level? A lot of the time, the answer to that is no, they’re not. So the strength and conditioning coach is a very important part of the coaching staff. He’s got to be able to put a program in place for all these players to get them through the offseason, which is a tremendous opportunity for players to improve. I’ve seen that, going back, every year that I’ve been involved in pro sports. The strides the players can make in the offseason can be phenomenal. The confidence that they can then show, coming into training camp, show in their game. Their game explodes because they can compete physically, they can match up, they’re leaning against guys and battling against guys and they see that they’re coming out with possession of the puck and having success on the ice. Their game just takes off. Chad (Smith) is an important part of it.

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Question: Do you get a sense that things here are close to where you’d like them to be?

MURRAY: Yeah, the program is in place. He’s been dealing with the players for a couple years, and we see the players working out when they come in here in the morning. There are several veteran guys who are around, and I know what he’s doing with the young players, as far as an off-ice program is concerned. It’s in the right direction. We’ll see where it all shakes out as we get into testing and on-ice stuff. We might have to make some changes here and there. We’ll see, but the physical strength and development is absolutely critical and we’re trying to accelerate that as quickly as possible,

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Question: Toughness was a topic that came up a lot with last year’s team, and a lot of people thought the team wasn’t tough enough to stand up to opponents. Do you have any general philosophies about how you like a team to look?

MURRAY: When you look at these teams, everybody competes. That’s where you hold players accountable, is in competition. Everybody has to compete at a high level, to the best of their ability. As a coach, you’re always probably looking at the top half-dozen teams in the league and you see how they compete and how they get there. They’re battling and working and competing every night, every shift. That’s where you need to get these younger players that we’re going to put in the lineup to that point. That’s a process in itself. Even if your physical size is not the same as other teams that you’re playing against, the competition word is still out there and you have to go after your piece of the ice. You have to go after puck possession and you have to establish your style of game. That’s just part of the game. That’s what it is to be a hockey player. You have to do that, and as a coaching staff we have to make sure that we’re demanding that from our players on a game-to-game situation.

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  • anthony

    Rich you’re the greatest.
    I can’t name any individual whose given so much to the organization and the fans.
    Your work and commitment is invaluable.

    Just putting up with me – says a lot about you.
    But hopefully next season, I’ll eat my words.

  • JDM

    Rich, you’re a blessing.

  • gregb

    Off topic a bit. Our new C Jarret Stoll has a new fiancee – Rachel Hunter. Can’t hurt the attendance at Staples. Anything to boost interest in the Kings!!!

    This according to the SF Chronicle’s Daily Dish (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/sfgate/indexd?blogid=7).

  • MarkE

    I like that he is talking about competing on every possession but he never really answers the question about team toughness. Having the players in place to protect those younger players, and our skilled players, ie. Kopitar, Sully, Brown, Purcell. It been a long time since the Kings have had that “all for one and one for all” mentality. I was hoping for a little more about team toughness than working out routines, but I guess its a step in the right direction.

  • Nick

    Well, he didn’t really answer the toughness question…lets see what happens come Sept-Oct. I’m hoping to see a line-up with Boyle, Ivanans and Greene in it…which makes things a lot tougher.

    Mark Crawford had his faults, but he played the few toughers players he had as much as he could, Avery, TK, Thornton and Ivanans. Too bad Lombardi didn’t give him more on that front once TK and Avery left then Ivanans and an old and oft injured Thornton were left with all the dirty work.

  • Anonymous

    You can probably add Moluson, Harold, Hickey, Frolov, Richardson, Doughty to that list. The Kings need toughness, team toughness or otherwise, to allow these guys to grow and develop.

  • wavesinair

    Yes Rich, more please. Thank you.

    gregb, it’s a great blog. read it.

  • Pat McGroyn

    gregb,

    Please see Rich Hammond’s post at 9:23 this morning.

  • Buck

    Excellent work, thanks Rich!

  • John

    Anonymous Frolov is uniquely one of the toughest motherf***ers in the league! You can’t hold onto the puck like that in the NHL & not be tough.

  • http://hbshakes.blogspot.com Shakes

    @ John, totally agree with you. What Fro brings with keeping the puck in the o-zone or letting the guys cycle is just incredible and highly underrated.

  • JDM

    I echo the Frolov sentiments. Often when people complain about him not shooting or passing enough, I always think Fro’s just doing his thing and doing it well. He has gained an increasingly greater nose for the net every year. I expect that trend to continue.

  • cristobal

    You know i’m actually starting to feel hope…

    Washington and Montreal got deep into the playoffs with teams that weren’t all that stellar. When I realize the quality in Kopitar and Frolov alone, I begin to think why not…? Add in Brown, Stoll, and Doughty and the Kings really only need the rest of the team to perform well in the checking dept. and they could do well. I do remember that the defense his horrorshow young, but if Ersberg and Boyle are able to adapt quickly maybe they’ll sneak in and surprise.

    It’s asking a lot, especially from Doughty, but…its just another year setting myself up for disappointment, isn’t it?

  • mrbrett7

    Cristobal, this team, as it is right now, doesn’t have a prayer in hell.

    Me, I’m fine with that, because I can see 2-3 years down the road. I can see what they are attempting to build here.

    I read where Anthony brought up the fact that you need the veterens to play with the rookies/kids, and someone slap me for saying this, he is right. But, you won’t get those veterens to come here and play with those kids until they have a real reason to do so.

    This franchise is a year away at the least from being able to lure those guys here.

    I expect marked improvement across the board in all areas this season, but they don’t have a shot in hell at the playoffs this season, and they will get throttled by the top 8-10 of the league on a nightly basis (well, not every night, but most nights). The object is to see the improvement happening on each night. To see the kids learning from the mistakes that they WILL make, and to see drastic improvement happening around Christmas…you see that, and you know they are heading in the right direction.

  • cristobal

    mrbrett7 – yes, but you never know what will happen between now and the playoffs, and do you disagree that the teams i mentioned, beyond a couple fantastic players, weren’t all that deep? especially washington?

    If Doughty is the real deal, he Kopitar and Frolov may mature rapidly together.

  • mrbrett7

    Agree, sure, see it happening, I’d like to agree, but I just can’t. Washington for instance has a player that is a once in a generation type of talent, and as good as Kopitar is, he isn’t Ovechkin.

    We don’t have the goaltending to be at that level and we don’t have the defense to be anywhere near that level as of yet.

    To get there, about 6 players would need to make a leap of astronomical proportions. I’m hoping for giant leaps right now.

  • cristobal

    I won’t argue the points you make, except that keep in mind Washington used Huet, from a trade, in the playoffs and have a really underwhelming team outside of Ovechkin.

    I agree, though. Really, at this point, I’m unhappy with a lot of Lombardi moves and want Tevares next year. If it ain’t him, i want the playoffs. So I have demands and hopes, just not the ordinary kind. Murray is going to do all he can to avoid being eligible for Tevares, however. Coaches just cannot worry about the draft.

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