Want to know why this Kings team is different? There’s a ping-pong table in the dressing room. The hand-eye coordination of ping-pong might help on the ice, but more important is the fact that the table is there in the first place. I have a hard time imagining that Marc Crawford ever would have allowed a ping-pong table in the room.
The mood in the dressing room seems decidedly more relaxed. Now, people can go around and around and debate the positives and negatives of having a “looser” dressing room, but the players seem much happier and at ease. Several have mentioned it without much prompting, as you’ve read in some of the interviews here (and will below). Watching practice, I’ve yet to see him yell at a player, never mind some of the cover-the-kids’-ears moments that used to take place with Crawford.
From a writer’s standpoint, Terry Murray has been great to deal with. He’s very pleasant to deal with, he has a bit of a sense of humor and he gives thoughtful answers. Of course, at this point he hasn’t yet lost a game, so he doesn’t have any reason to be defensive, but he seems to be a good fit, personality-wise, for this team. We’ll see if he can use that personality to get his guys to play the way he wants.
Along these lines, here’s what goalie Jason LaBarbera had to say today about the change in atmosphere around the Kings…
Question: I’ve heard, from several guys, about how different Terry’s style seems to be. What have you seen from him, and what’s been the biggest difference?
LABARBERA: “I would say it’s a little more relaxed, in a good way. It’s not as high strung. Terry is definitely an intense guy, there’s no doubt about it. He has a quiet intensity about him. Crow kind of wore his emotions on his sleeve and it kind of wore off on everyone. Their approaches are a little different, as far as that aspect of it goes. Guys seem more relaxed, and so far it’s been refreshing.”
Question: It would seem to me that, as a goalie, you would want the guys playing in front of you to be more relaxed and not playing in fear all the time…
LABARBERA: “It makes it easier for me too, because I kind of feed off that. There were times last year where you could just feel that tension. I felt it. We were down one or two goals and you could just see it and feel it on the bench and in the room. That’s not condusive to winning. It’s really tough to play like that. It’s just more of a quiet confidence now, I think.”