Murray discusses the No. 1 line

There have been a couple questions — oh, just a couple — about the way Terry Murray has put together his top line, with Anze Kopitar centering Dustin Brown and Kyle Calder. Everyone, Murray included, acknowledges that the Kings aren’t getting enough offensive production from their top line, but what to do about it? Here are Murray’s thoughts about the line and his thoughts about possible changes in the near future…

Question: One theme this season has been your need to get more offense out of that top line. Do you feel like you’re getting any closer on that, or is there more tweaking necessary?

MURRAY: “I think there’s more tweaking necessary. I’m seeing tremendous effort, intensity, work, from Kopi and from Brownie, so I could ask for no more on that side of things. It’s been wonderful. I’m just looking for the chemistry to really develop to a higher level. I probably need to keep looking, to find someone who can fit on that (left) side, although I really like what Calder has… He’s playing the best I’ve seen him play. I don’t go back into the Chicago days, necessarily, but certainly when he was brought into Philadelphia, through that time and now four years later, he’s playing his best hockey. So I’m very happy with that, but it does come down to some flow and some chemistry and the intuitive stuff that good lines have.”

Question: What type of player would fit best with Brown and Kopitar?

MURRAY: “You know, who knows what the ideal is? In my mind, if you had Raitis Ivanans’ kind of size with a Mario Lemieux kind of talent, I would say, `This will work.” (laughs)”

Question: But is it more of a `finisher’ that they need?

MURRAY: “Well, I think a player who plays on a line like that, your top line, needs to bring all aspects of the game. You’ve got to be creative. You’ve got to be a grinding player. You’ve got to be able to cycle the puck very strongly in today’s game, because of the way the game is in the NHL. And certainly finishing is a huge part of it. It just takes a multi-faceted, talented player, to make good things work on a line.”

Question: It just seems like you typically look for a player who would complement the other players’ strengths or weaknesses…

MURRAY: “Well, you’re talking about an ideal scenario, and that’s not always the way it is. It’s not always possible to do that, obviously, so you’re trying to put a combination today that certainly is going to bring intensity and bring the work structure. Then they develop the chemistry as they sit together, talk together, practice together, and a lot of instinctive stuff starts to happen. Athletes need to react, they need to react to the game, and when you finally get those things together, there’s that kind of read going on. Then it becomes a powerful and dominating kind of a line.”

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  • anthony

    This guy needs to see a shrink.
    I mean if he honestly believes that the top line is showing potential, then this team is doomed.
    And if he honestly believes that he needs to look elswhere to find a LW (when Sully is right under his nose) then he’s just not skilled enough to even coach the Monarchs.
    He’s Senile!

  • killface

    can we make some fortune cookies that have O’Sullivan’s name in them, and send them to Murray? He’s obviously not looking for an answer using logic and reality.

  • Irish Pat

    MURRAY: “You know, who knows what the ideal is? In my mind, if you had Raitis Ivanans’ kind of size with a Mario Lemieux kind of talent, I would say, `This will work.” (laughs)”

    Ha, ha, ha. Man, that is funny considering he is going with Kyle Calder. Ha, ha, ha. Then he states:

    MURRAY: “Well, I think a player who plays on a line like that, your top line, needs to bring all aspects of the game. You’ve got to be creative. You’ve got to be a grinding player. You’ve got to be able to cycle the puck very strongly in today’s game, because of the way the game is in the NHL. And certainly finishing is a huge part of it. It just takes a multi-faceted, talented player, to make good things work on a line.”

    You’ve got to be KIDDING!!! CALDER? With one goal? How does he not leave O’Sullivan on that line? Incredible. Absolutely incredible. Sorry to repaste the quotes from above, but I’m just floored by this guy’s pretzel logic.

  • Anonymous

    “effort, intensity, work…”

    NICE TERRY MURRAY, THEN LET’S HAVE A TOP LINE OF CALDER, ZEILER, AND GIULIANO FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

  • Deano Lombardo

    Thats the BEST he’s seen Calder play????? Now THAT is scary. That means what we are seeing is Calders ceiling! I give up……And the 1st overall selection in the 2009 draft belongs to:

  • Telos

    HAHAHA! That was hilarious. It was as if Rich was talking to a preschooler.

    Rich: What goes great with peanut butter?

    Murray: Well it would have to be a tangy substance that is also sweet…

    Rich: What would go great with bread and peanut butter?

    Murray: Well if you throw the bread in there to balance out the sweetness I would say a mix between an epic tanginess and a godlike sweetness.

    ME (As I kick down the door and run up to Murray): JELLY!!!! HERE THIS JELLY SITTING ON THE BENCH RIGHT HERE WILL DO!

    Put Fro or Sully on the top line and stop being a baboon… Murray. -_-

  • shadowalk

    “It’s been wonderful”? I must be going to the wrong arena.

  • Marty

    Murray fails to put together offensive lines and it should cost him his job.Any NHL team would not put up with his incompetence throwing away games by over playing weak players in the top 6 roles.Coaching changes are needed now he is losing the cores confidence the sooner the trigger is pulled the better.Just look at the results and games lost through mishandling of our scorers.

  • David

    Murray’s totally losing it when he even mentions Raitis Ivanans in the same breath with Mario Lemieux! Next he’ll be comparing John Zeiler with Wayne Gretzky.

  • Will

    Ah, its starting to make sense now. Notice he referred back to Calder’s Philly days. Hmm, who else played in the Philly? Oh yeah, Gauthier. And he seems to like/favorite these guys. Does anyone think that this is just some strange coincidence? Kinda reminds me of the Crawford/Cloutier connection…

  • Anonymous

    I am surprised that it has not been mentioned before but I believe that a good second line would make the first line better. Each game I see the other teams best defensemen and forwards go up against our best. I know that this common but we would much better if we had a better second line. I think RM’s thought process is good. We just may need to improve at Calder’s position. But putting POS on the first line probably is not the answer/

  • Winsomemore

    Before reading Terry Murray’s comments I was just worried about his coaching ability.

    Now I’m scared.

    Very.

  • Marty

    FIRE MURRAY LETS HERE THE CHANTS!

  • Marc Nathan

    WTF Rich… everybody praises you up, down and sideways, but YOU couldn’t ask “What was wrong with O’Sullivan on that line?” — He did get goals in 2 of the 3 games he played with them, and the 3rd was the 6-2 debacle in Calgary.

    Come on Terry Murray… what’s your hard on about the fact that those three kids love playing together?

  • Al

    Now you all know why he’s a coach and never A SCOUT. Scout’s can see talent, some coaches JUST THINK they see talent.

  • mrk

    I was under the assumption that Calder is on the top line to spread the scoring to 3 lines. Now if he is admiting needing some tweaking on the 1st line, why does he have a problem with putting Sully in there?

    ” I’m just looking for the chemistry to really develop to a higher level. I probably need to keep looking, to find someone who can fit on that (left) side”

    Open your eyes man! You have a couple of players that’ll fit on that left side. One of them you just benched for God knows what!

  • Anonymous

    any chance you could get an interview with Dean? Maybe a quarterly report. and throw him some of the same questions you asked Murray and see if the responses are along the same lines. maybe we will be able to see if Dean is pulling strings or if Murray is doing this all on his own

  • Tevez

    You know, who knows what the ideal is? In my mind, if you had Raitis Ivanans’ kind of size with a Mario Lemieux kind of talent

    Earth to Murray: You just sent the closest thing resembling this to Manchester. His name is Brian Boyle. Give him one game there to see if he fits. How are you going to find the right combo if you only try Calder or O’Sullivan with Kopitar and Brown?

    LARIONOV WE NEED YOU.
    PLEASE COME COACH THE KINGS.

  • Irish Pat

    Marc Nathan brings up a great point about how these kids LOVE playing together. It’s been documented that they’re freaking best friends off the ice. What’s so hard about playing Kopi-Sully-Brown on one line and Fro-Stoll-Moller on another? Am I way off base here? This seems like a potentially good idea if he would try it. I’m happy with the defensive commitment he’s brought to the team, but the juggling of lines and the handling of goalies makes me want to throw up. FYI- The Kings finished last season 13th in Goals Fielded per Game and this season they’re currently 24th. Someone needs to get through to this guy.

  • Marty

    Someone mentioned previous aliances.Look at Crawfords Clouthier and Deanos MacCauley and now we got Murray with Zeus ,The goathier and Calder.Just because their old like you doesn’t make it right let it go Murray.Murray and his assistants who handle the forwards need to be replaced.

  • Cynic

    Where the HELL is ‘Captain Obvious’ when you NEED him?

    Being frustrated over the product on the ice is one thing. I never thought that level could get any higher…until I read this interview.

    Incase TM reads this and doesn’t get the previous joke…PATRICK O’SULLIVAN = JELLY, YOU !@#$%^&*(!@#$!

  • anthony

    No Irish Pat.
    You’re not off base. You’re right on.
    The problem is that this coach is completely senile.
    He’s ignorant to common sense. Unlike you sir.

  • Marty

    This seems like some sloppy 2nd rate line selections by Murray and he should face the consequences.LOLor cry.

  • Roger

    Stop the presses the kings lost two games in a row. Let’s fire the coach and next perhaps the GM.
    It’s obvious that the first line is struggling. The power play is not going so well. They seem to be out of sink in the offensive zone. And most of all these guys have forgotten how to put the puck in the net.
    Now strong character teams will find the way to crawl out of this funk. And it’s going to take strong leadership from Brown and the rest of the cast to pull this team together and play like men not like boys. The wining days are over. They can’t make any excuses. These guys have been given the chance to show what they are made of. So it’s up to these guys to play up to their potential. So, my advice to the team is. Play an honest game and don’t be afraid to shoot the puck. But make sure it’s at least on net.
    Roger

  • Marty

    I also would love to hear the lame ass excuse Lombardi would give for the stupidity of the lines and failure of offense created by Murray.

  • Quisp

    I think you guys are completely misreading what TM is saying here. Completely. Let’s look at the interview sentence by sentence…

    “I think there’s more tweaking necessary.” No other way to look at this one. “Tweaking” means “get someone else on that line.”

    “I’m seeing tremendous effort, intensity, work, from Kopi and from Brownie, so I could ask for no more on that side of things. It’s been wonderful.” In other words, he has no problem with their work ethic. But:

    “I’m just looking for the chemistry to really develop to a higher level.” In other words, he’s looking for them to do something they haven’t done yet. Underline: he’s not satisfied. So he continues:

    “I probably need to keep looking, to find someone who can fit on that (left) side”. Again, translation: “Calder isn’t working.”

    Now the problem area for many on this blog, but please, bear with me…

    “…although I really like what Calder has… He’s playing the best I’ve seen him play. I don’t go back into the Chicago days, necessarily, but certainly when he was brought into Philadelphia, through that time and now four years later, he’s playing his best hockey. So I’m very happy with that…”

    Translation: Calder has been playing well, but not as well as his one good season in Chicago. I have elsewhere stated my theory that DL is telling TM to give Calder a showcase so DL can trade him. This sentence screams that to me. I really, really think it’s possible that TM is just putting the best face he can on this situation, that the idea is that Calder does well enough in the next month for DL to swing a deal and get him the hell out of here. (Anthony, I don’t really think — as I joked on another thread — that TM is playing Calder on the first line in order to force DL to deal the guy; I have no reason to believe there’s bad blood between DL and TM.)

    Okay, so Murray does his best to say some nice things about Calder, then he immediately qualifies it:

    “…but it does come down to some flow and some chemistry and the intuitive stuff that good lines have.” And he’s already said they’re lacking chemistry. So, again, the translation of that is, “Calder: not so much.”

    Then Murray is asked what kind of a player would work, and he makes a joke about the love child of Ivanans and Mario, or whatever. We all get it, right? A giant with Hall of Fame skills. Then the follow-up: “do they need a finisher?”

    And Murray gives a list of qualities the player needs:

    1) “brings all aspects of the game.”
    2) is “creative”
    3) “grinding”
    4) be able to “cycle the puck very strongly”
    5) “finishing”

    Then, the money question. Rich asks about finding players who complement each others strengths and weaknesses, and the response I think is very telling:

    “Well, you’re talking about an ideal scenario, and that’s not always the way it is. It’s not always possible to do that, obviously.” Meaning, this is not an ideal situation. Meaning, it’s not possible to do that, now.

    What could that possibly mean in this situation? It means, he has to play Calder there for some reason, but knows it’s not ideal. Underline: he knows it. He’s not insane.

    So what’s the reasoning? My guess is, first, it’s that TM likes balance and doesn’t want one top-heavy offensive line and three weak ones, and, second, (my crackpot theory) because I think DL wants to move Calder.

    So then he goes on to explain what you do when you don’t have an ideal situation. Like now.

    “…so you’re trying to put a combination today that certainly is going to bring intensity and bring the work structure. Then they develop the chemistry…and a lot of instinctive stuff starts to happen.”

    In other words, when you don’t have the ideal situation, you look to bring the “intensity” and the “work structure.” The system. He believes in the defensive system. He believes in having four balanced lines. He believes in holding people accountable (and I don’t think there’s been a double-standard in his benching/punishment, but I’ll make that comment on the other thread). He rewards hard work and playing the system.

    But I think, really, he’s saying what most of us are saying. He’s just saying it in Terry Murray language, constrained by all sorts of things we’re not privy to (see crack pot theory, above).

  • Marty

    Quispy you sound like a coach that is on the payroll bought and paid for.How is that his decision making in regards to offense goes against logic but it seems okay.Its not, there is no excuse,get rid of Murray bring in Laviolette and make it quick the clock is ticking and the 1 goal losses are mounting.

  • EAT THE RICH

    Quisp – It doesn’t make sense to jack the team around in hopes of unloading a player that makes almost 3 milion dollars a year and has 1 or 2 goals 1/4 of the way through the season despite playing with the two best players on the team both at regular strength and on the power play.
    If that’s what’s going on DL should be fired. The players and the fans don’t deserve it.
    I don’t think that’s what is happening though.
    Brian Willsie scored over 20 goals one year getting time with Ovechkin. Kopitar and Brown should be making a star out of whoever they’re playing with, but to do it the team must be balanced, and it’s not. Why? Our defensemen. We lack quality at the back. Man, I feel like a broken record.

    The balanced lines talk goes out the window when you’re skating Ivanans, Boyle, and the kitchen sink as the 4th line. Where’s the balance there?
    Murray has plenty to work with on the offensive end, but he’s bent on returning to a failing formula. We’re 4 points out of dead last. If a real slump sets in, look-out.

  • Tevez

    NICE TERRY MURRAY, THEN LET’S HAVE A TOP LINE OF CALDER, ZEILER, AND GIULIANO FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

    Careful what you wish for. Careful.

  • Quisp

    Eat – I’m not entirely convinced of my own crack-pot theory (thus, its labeling as a crack-pot theory). I think Kopitar and Brown need to be split up, as I have said before. And I think that would be a great thing for everyone if/when it happens, not a punishment but a realization that these two players have out-grown each other. I could be wrong. But as you pointed out, Willsie etc..

    I would like to see Moller center POS and Brown, but maybe Murray thinks Moller isn’t ready for the defensive responsibilities of playing center on the top line. Failing that, I would like to see POS/Handzus/Brown. Let’s try that…

    POS/Handzus/Brown
    Frolov/Kopitar/Moller
    Calder/Stoll/Simmonds
    Zeiler/Armstrong/Richardson

    (p.s. substitute Lewis for Zeiler and Purcell for Calder, and I think you’ve got yourself a pretty good team there.)

  • EAT THE RICH

    Quisp – What frustrates the hell out of everybody is that we can’t really “try that” because Murray is calling the shots.
    What’s even more frustrating is that there is now two of us who believe Calder/Stoll/Simmonds would make a good line. It’d be my 4th line, but will we ever see it at all?

  • Quisp

    It sucks to lose two games that you should have won. But I still think patience is not a bad remedy for the Kings’ problems. I do think the fundamental realization, after which all the other chips fall pretty easily into place, is that Kopitar and Brown need to be on different lines. I shouldn’t say “need to be.” They obviously had a lot of success and chemistry with POS last year. But I think it’s a fair question: has the emergence of a more confident Brown upset the balance between them? It makes sense to me. Because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Kopitar.

  • EAT THE RICH

    Quisp – Anyone still loyal (or should I say heartbroken) to/about the Kings has the patience of a saint.
    Fan is short for fanatic, though, isn’t it?
    Is it a crime to be passionate and frustrated as a fan?
    Brown and Kopitar don’t need to be broken up, but how can Murray find the right linemate when he’s only tried 3 players there? Moulson (remember him?), Calder, and O’Sullivan (barely).

  • Goon Squad

    Let’s hope Brian Boyle is learning to

    1) “bring all aspects of the game.”
    2) be “creative”
    3) “grind”
    4) “cycle the puck very strongly”
    5) “finish”

    especially numbers 3 and 4, because, as Tevez stated, he’s the closest thing to Raitis Lemieux that we’ll likely ever have if he can just keep up.

  • EAT THE RICH

    “Can’t Terry see that he’s gotta put Moeller up with Brown and Koper?” – I made that comment during the first game of the season in the 3rd period.

  • voice of reason

    Meh, I’m having a tough time with this one.

    I understand everything Murray is saying, and I understand why he has been going about things a certain way.

    But I can’t understand why Sully isn’t on the top line. Everything he says he is looking for in a first line winger describes Sully almost exactly.

    Maybe he wants to have the scoring spread around, and it’s not like Sully’s ice time is suffering, but yeah…I don’t know.

  • Marty

    Maybe not going to the games is the answer.The voice of reason might lay in the cash box.I just don’t understand the logic in seperating something that works for something that does not.Put Sully with Kopi and Brown and keep them together,I guarantee they all will score more than they do now.They have in the past.

  • Bring Back the Shield Jersey

    Well, Quisp, if the idea is to showcase Calder, that plan sure is back-firing.

    Now I’m not one clamoring for Sulli to be put with Brownitar, Moller’s my choice, but when I hear TM talking about how chemistry is formed as players, “sit together, talk together, practice together”, why does Sulli get only one game (this year) with Brownitar? How can TM say, by his own prescription, that he gave that line a chance to develop? I just don’t buy what he’s selling on this one. He’s got a reason, but he’s just not saying why O’Kopitown won’t be re-united. And, apparantly it needs to be said, again, They Played Together All Last Year and THEY ALL HAD PERSONAL BEST SEASONS!!!!!!!!!!!! WTF is your problem with that line?!

  • mrk

    voice of reason said:
    “Meh, I’m having a tough time with this one.

    I understand everything Murray is saying, and I understand why he has been going about things a certain way.

    But I can’t understand why Sully isn’t on the top line. Everything he says he is looking for in a first line winger describes Sully almost exactly.

    Maybe he wants to have the scoring spread around, and it’s not like Sully’s ice time is suffering, but yeah…I don’t know.”

    This is the same way i’m feeling. It’s not so much that I don’t think he knows what he’s doing. My problem is, he seems to not want to see what he’s looking for… which is in front of him. Maybe Quisp is on to something.

  • Goon Squad

    “O’Kopitown”

    I seriously cannot stop laughing at that! I guess I’m easily amused.

  • nykingfan

    I agree MRK…it sounded like he was describing Sully…but I will give the benefit of the doubt to TM at this point.
    Contrary to what some of the people here believe, I’m fairly confident that TM is not deliberately trying to lose games. He has his reasons for keeping Sully of the top line and we’re not in a position to question his expertise. If DL feels that he’s not competent to coach this team, he’ll get rid of him…the same as he did with Crawford.

    I just think people here are going crazy for absolutely no good reason. The team is doing better than any of us thought was possible. We lose 2 in a row and they’re ready to burn the organization from top to bottom. There was even someone on this thread who thinks the Kings defense lacks quality. When was the last time our GAA was this good? Someone also will refuse to go to the gamwe is Fro is scratched…it’s insane the panic that goes on….after only 2 losses.

  • Marty

    Sorry nykingfan it is our right to question Murrays decisions when they are losing games by 1 and 2 goals when the answer is O’Kopitown.

  • Ersberg

    They are trying to trade Calder, it’s pretty obvious. I’m thinking a trade to Atlanta is in order. I’m gonna get a beating for this, but I’m thinking Fro+Calder and pick for Kov. I’m a big fan of Fros, but in this era, you have to give up some serious blood for elite players.

  • nykingfan

    Marty,

    Who says that’s the reason? You or I can question the decisions…I may have misspoke when I said we have no right to question them, but we certainly have no expertise in the matter….at least not close to the expertise of the coach and the coaching staff. If they are wrong, then I’m sure DL will do something about it.
    How can we judge his thinking when we don’t attend practices on a daily basis…we don’t view game film?
    We are fans….we want to win and a lot of times we think we know what’s best, but we don’t…None of us do.

  • Quisp

    “Ersberg”, re trade:

    Frolov and Calder and a pick for Kovalchuk? Well, I guess we’d have to say yes if Atlanta offered. But, come on. The guy is a two-time 50 goal-scorer. Calder doesn’t sweeten the pot, either. He subtracts from the value of Frolov.

    I think if you are DL and you think you want Kovalchuk, you might dangle Frolov, but you’re still going to have to give up something you don’t want to give up. The pick doesn’t do it. The Thrashers would want one or two of the following:

    Moller, Bernier, Simmonds, Teubert, Hickey, Boyle, Quincey.

    They would probably take Frolov and Brown for Kovalchuk. Or Frolov, Moller and Bernier. Or Doughty, straight up.

    They’re not going to say, well, Frolov is not as good as Kovalchuk, but ooh, Kyle Calder! If he can regain his 20-goal form of several years ago, that would be a steal!

  • Ersberg

    Quisp-

    I’d think we’d need to offer up front for a guy like Kov, and them not asking so much. I think that part where they would ask would come as a counter-offer.

    I do believe playing Calder on the first line is just for that reason: To show that he can(or cannot). There’s very little chance of us getting much for him alone, so that’s why I’m thinking he would need to be packaged along with an upper crust player and a pick. It would breakdown something like the following:
    1)Fro or equivalent-top end player, two-way, proven scorer, and roughly the same age as Kov(around 25/26)
    2)Calder-experienced wing, mostly a grinder/front of the net/draws penalties(like the one in he Phoenix game, as an example).
    3)Round 1 pick
    I don’t know, maybe not Calder then. Perhaps like you said, one of the younger guys would do it.

    I do feel the Kings shouldn’t wait too long in aquiring an ace winger to have along with the young guys as they grow into their own. Honestly, I don’t see that as being someone like Gaborik, but that’s another discussion.

  • rob

    How many times has Calder had the puck in front of the net, not finish, and you think (probably out LOUD), “O’Sullivan would have buried that!!” If Calder had any hands, he’d have 10 goals by now.

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