Terry Murray has been patient and polite for an entire season, but at the end of it, I finally found a question that he wouldn’t answer. Not that I blame him, because I really wasn’t expecting a candid answer, but Murray deferred when asked about Brown’s and Kopitar’s desire for a scoring left winger, and whether that was his desire as well. Murray did talk extensively about his hopes for the summer and where he thinks the Kings can go next season…
Question: I just got done asking your captain and one of your alternate captains, if they could ask Dean for a Christmas present this summer, what would they ask for, and they both said `a scoring left wing’ without much hesitation…
Question: As you go into the summer, is that at the top of your wish list too? As a coach, do you have a wish list?
MURRAY: “What’s at the top of my wish list is that we have a regimented schedule, and a follow-through by every player in the organization, to push themselves as hard as they can in this offseason to develop their bodies and their minds to where they need to be in order to allow themselves to be the best they can be at the start of the camp next year.”
Question: Last year you were hired in the middle of July. Will it be easier this summer, or different, in terms of getting that where you want it?
MURRAY: “Yeah, it’s different at the start. Players need a break now, and some guys are probably going to end up in the World Championships. There is a required time to relax and let your body recover from the season, and then to prepare yourself for that offseason program. It’s about following it religiously and becoming an elite athlete, becoming a man out there.”
Question: If you put two names at the top of that list, would they be Moller and Simmonds?
MURRAY: “No, it’s everybody.They’re all grouped together. The veteran players who have been in the league for several years now, they need to follow through and maintain, obviously, in order to keep that conditioning at the right level. The younger guys, they need to push themselves to get to the next level, to come into the training camp and have complete control. The confidence just sky-rockets whenever you have the physical strength to be able to match up. That’s at the top of the list.
“The other part of it, that’s in-house for me. I don’t want to discuss that, to be honest with you. I’ll leave that to management. My thoughts will stay in-house, and I’m sure we’ll be having those conversations over the next couple weeks.”
Question: You said, early on, that making the playoffs was the goal this season. Outside expectations weren’t nearly as high, but going into next season, does that become even more of a goal?
MURRAY: “It’s not a moving target. The goal is still to make the playoffs, as it was this year. We expect to make them next year. We’re going to have a real solid year behind us, and I say that real candidly. This has been a great year for the young players and for this team. If you go through the numbers and the categories and break things down, there’s been great improvement. And there’s stuff that’s not evaluated through the numbers. It’s the intangibles that I’m seeing with our team, the way they’re playing right now. They played properly (Thursday) night, hard, strong. They battled. The decision was made, before the game, to compete, that we are as good as them. You’ve got to think that way. It’s not that you think you can; it’s that you know you can.
“To me, there’s a huge difference in that, because one way, you can get pushed out of the game, and the other way, you’re going to hang in there and compete real hard. I’ve felt here, in the last couple games, and after that second period in Calgary, that we believed. That’s a breakthrough. That’s an issue that every player, every team, has to deal with on their way up. They have to make that conscious decision that, `I know I can do this.”’
Question: In watching you guys this year, it seemed that there weren’t a lot of `average’ games. You either played really strong or you just weren’t there at all. Is that a fair analysis?
MURRAY: “I think some of those games that were kind of (not there) were after some travel. I think that might be an area of the business that we still have to get a handle on. It’s a young team, young players. This is the way it is, and it’s never going to be allowed to be an excuse. Every team goes through it, and you’ve got to deal with it properly. Dealing with it properly is about managing the game.
“That’s a phrase I have used a lot. When you learn how to manage the game, you learn how to play three games in four nights, when you’re traveling. It’s making the puck work. It’s playing with structure, playing your system and puck movement, better decisions with it. There are times when those stars are aligned and you’re high-energy and you can go out and overwhelm a team, like we did at times this year, with team play. We need to get a better handle on it, and I think we’re starting to.”