It’s a new era

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…

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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.”

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  • Brian

    Thanks again for the fantastic coverage Rich! I am glad for the coverage and your professionalism. Your work helps bring us fans that much closer to the Kings. With that said, I wish the Kings well and look forward to the growth under Coach Murray. Rich, what is the biggest thing or things you would like to see the Kings accomplish this season (of course besides the Stanley Cup)?

  • Paul

    Good stuff Rich. I think this is the right direction for the team to take and I’m glad it’s a happier dressing room.

    I said when the Kings hired Crawford that he’s a coach for a team that’s just about ready to take the next step to become cup contenders. That’s why he did so well in Colorado. That’s why he’ll do good again in the NHL at some point.

    The Kings are one of the youngest teams in the NHL, if not the youngest. While discipline has it’s place in professional sports, it doesn’t belong in the Kings locker room. They need a teacher, not a yeller.

    The one thing everyone says about Terry Murray is he’s a teacher. That’s what the Kings needed. That’s what they got.

  • lakingzfan

    I agree that the sentiment right now is good from all the players that I have heard from. And I also agree that that is the atmosphere that is most conducive to learning. BUT, whether that translates into a winning atmosphere has yet to be determined. Also, I think it will be mightily challenged when a losing streak hits and the times are tough. Its easy to say its not about wins this year, its a year to grow and learn, but remember, there is always pressure to perform at this level, because it fills seats and pays everyones salaries.

  • Marc Nathan

    Pride = Power = Passion + Ping Pong!

  • Anonymous

    “[Their] approaches are a little different[. . .]”

    You’re welcome, Rich.

  • jet

    Rich,

    Any chance you could find out if Manchester is going to run the same system as Murray? No rush, just curious.

  • Anonymous

    If the playoffs started today, we’d be in. Well Actually in a 5 way way tie for 4th place.

  • Tom Hughes

    Me vs. Kopi in beer pong

  • http://hbshakes.blogspot.com Shakes

    Overheard in the Kings locker room:

    “First Labs you must stop ping pong balls. then, and only then, you face pucks.”

    “Ivanans, stop stepping on all the balls”

    “Coach Murray, Frolov ate the ping pong balls again”

  • KingFan4ever

    Like I’ve said before Rich, your a freakin monster!! Thanks for keeping all of us Kings fans sane during the off season!

    I know this Kings team is young and will have lots trials as they find chemistry and their own way of winning but more so, there is a unique opportunity here to surprise people because no one is talking about them. I’ve scoured the net and most hockey sites have the Kings competing for last place with Long Island.

    This is a far cry from being projected 5th, even 4th in the west under the Crawfish regime. From the way it is sounding, the team is loose and having real fun. This time I can’t imagine that the expectations are that high for playoff prospects. But weirder things have happened. That’s why the games are played.

    It’ll be another interesting season so bring it on!

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