Picking up the Q&A, Terry Murray was asked about the development of young players and the concern that, in the last couple years, young players too often were forced to defer to veterans. Here’s what Murray had to say, and he also explained his thoughts on leadership and how he would like it to take shape on the Kings this season…
MURRAY: Clearly there has to be a change in the leadership here. The captain and the two alternates, the players that were in those roles last year are not here, so we’re going to have to make a decision on who that’s going to be. That’s going to take time. There’s no need to rush into that. I’ve got to have an opportunity, from the start of training camp, right through to the end where we play exhibition games — eight exhibition games, in fact — to get a read on who these guys are. Who’s going to carry and who’s going to be responsible? Who’s going to do the right thing as we get down to the tough part of the game, late in the third period? Who can handle the responsibility and who’s going to say the right things on the bench and in the dressing room?
There’s a lot of information that I need to take in from these players, as we get through that, and then as we get closer to the start of the season, we’ll discuss it as a management group and coaches and make a decision on it. I’m looking forward to that youth movement, whether it comes this year or next year, I’m looking forward to handing the ball over to these young guys and taking charge. But the process is quite simple. When you have veteran guys that have been around the organization for a period of time, there’s a real tendency for the young players not to break through. I mentioned the words `glass ceiling before.’ The young guys don’t want to step forward. It’s a big step. They feel like they’re infringing on the veteran players’ territory and sometimes you have veteran guys who don’t want to relinquish any type of leadership role, so they keep pushing these young guys down.
I don’t know what happened here last year in that area, but I have seen it in the past with other teams. Veteran guys that are here with his hockey team right now, I know them. I know a couple of them. I know Michal Handzus well. I know… We brought in Denis Gauthier as a free agent, a guy in Philadelphia, a real quality guy. I know a lot of the other veteran people here. I’ve had an opportunity to meet and talk with several already in the last couple weeks. To me, they seem like they’re on board with everything that’s going on. They’re going to encourage the young players. They’re going to tap them on the pads when things are going well, to help them grow, and I think they’re not going to be in their way when it comes to taking responsibility and the leadership of this hockey club.
As that kind of camaraderie grows and good feeling grows in the team, this is where the young guys really take the ball and they start to run. This is where you can make a big step forward as an organization. That’s the time I’m looking for with this team, and I think it’s going to happen real early in the season.