In this part of the interview, Terry Murray talks about why he chose to pursue the Kings coaching job, one that Dean Lombardi has called the toughest in the league. Murray also talks about what his new players should expect from him when training camp begins next month…
Question: Unless I’m mistaken, Michal Handzus is the only player who has played for you before. For the rest, what’s the most important thing for them to know about you as a coach?
MURRAY: From a player’s point of view, the most important thing is that we’re going to try to change the culture of what’s been going on. I think that’s very important for a new coach. They need to know that I’m going to hold players accountable. There needs to be a tremendous work ethic. I really believe, in this game today, that not only working hard but working smart, is a big part of the development process. I am a fair person to deal with, when it comes to the development process. I know there are a lot of young players in the organization and there are going to be some times and situations when they’re going to have a tough time, but we’re going to work through it. So the communication factor is going to be very big. We’re going to have the open-door policy, as you see here today by sitting here. Players are going to have to knock on the door sometimes and come and talk to us, as well as us having meetings with them.
The experience that I bring to the game, I think, is the other part of the equation here that the players not only need to know, but do know. I’ve been through a lot of this before, on the development side of it, on a team that has been through difficult times and made steps going into the next year. There’s a way of doing it and I have the experience of doing it. There needs to be a great trust developed between the coaching staff, and me in particular, and the players, so that we can make progress as quickly as possible.
Question: When Dean put his list of potential coaches together, he talked about needing someone who would be passionate about taking up this challenge. What was it about this job that made you want it?
MURRAY: My passion for the game, I don’t think, has ever changed. I’ve been on the coaching side of things for a lot of years and if you’re going to survive in this game, whether you’re a player who has played for a long time, or you’re going to coach for a long time, you have to have great passion and love for the game. Coming to the L.A. Kings, my passion is the same as it was with Philadelphia, Florida or Washington and through my playing days. It’s there. I loved to play and I love the coaching side of it. It’s just a natural, instinctive part of me, my love for the game.
Question: As for this job specifically, there’s a lot of young talent here but there’s been a lot of losing. What was it about this team, this challenge, that made it something worth going after?
MURRAY: As I went through the interview process with Dean and (Ron Hextall), people who I know, and Jack Ferreira, who I’ve known for a long time, the knowledge they have and the direction they want to go with this hockey team was laid out very clearly to me. There was no gray area. Here’s what it is, and everybody signed off on it. I went downtown and I met with people downtown and it was the same process, as far as agreeing on the process we need to go through and the steps we need to make, as management and as an ownership group, to get this underway and be successful at it. I really liked that kind of direction and that kind of process that they’re talking about, because we did go through it in Philadelphia and we did go through it in Florida. That was a team that was out of the playoffs. Washington, when I got into the coaching side of things, that team hadn’t made the playoffs in eight years. I was only coming in as an assistant coach, after retiring as a player, but I was there and participated and saw and was a part of that turnaround.
So the experience I have, I think it makes it very comfortable for me to know that I can come into a similar-like situation. Sure, the playing field has changed because of the time and place of the league, the lockout we went through and the salary cap that’s in place now. Everything is different from that side of it, but still we’re talking about developing hockey players and teaching young guys who to play the game the right way and how to become a team. That’s what we have right now. We have a group of young players, we have some veterans who have been around and been with the team for a couple years and we have a lot of players here who we need to mold and make into a hockey club. That’s the challenge and that’s the part of the job that is very intriguing to me.