Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Do The Kings Need Right Now? A New Coat of Paint

When the latest crop of NHL coaching changes started with Bruce Boudreau in Washington, it of course got me thinking about Kings bench boss Terry Murray. Discussion had already been running rampant among Kings fans and the blogosphere for weeks about whether his time had come too.

I initially wanted to write a post drawing some parallels between the current Kings and the team coached by the last Murray fired by the Kings in 2006 -- Andy Murray. I reached out to my fellow bloggers with the idea of doing a blogger round table, got some tepid response interest but nothing ever materialized. Judging from the current crop of blogs this week, everyone was busy writing their own stuff and didn't want to answer the question I posed -- "Based on what you've learned from history and the Andy Murray firing, is there a chance Terry Murray could be shown the door before the end of the season?" Or at least, they didn't want their opinion recorded in my blog first. I'll crack the boys club one of these days, but I guess now wasn't the time.

Coaching history aside, here's what I think of the current Kings situation based on my view from Section 116 so far this season.
  • We are a more talented team than last season and have less to show for it at this point.
  • We're dead last in the league in scoring, which shouldn't happen with the amount of talent we have.
  • With the exception of making Clifford-Moreau-Westgarth the top line, I think Terry Murray has tried every other conceivable line combination (and even some inconceivable ones) to try to spark scoring and nothing has worked.
So what kind of options does that leave the Kings?
  • Getting more scoring though trade hasn't worked in the past, and since most of the teams with players of interest to us are built similarly (from the back end out) substituting players isn't like to spark the results we need. 
  • If you want to argue the system the Kings play is the problem, get prepared for AEG to fire the entire front office and coaching staff and THEN blow up the line-up, because that's what changing the system would take. Dean Lombardi built that system, Terry Murray manages it and the players we have drafted and developed fit it. That system starts at the top of the organization and goes all the way through our minor league affiliates so we're stuck with it unless something truly catastrophic happens. And look no further than Washington and Bruce Boudreau as a testament to what happens when you try to change the system a team plays in during the season (which they attempted in 2010-2011).

Although if you want a little taste of deja vu when it comes to cleaning house, look no further than this entry from Dean Lombardi's Wikipedia page:
Does any of THAT scenario sound vaguely familiar?

Now back to the Kings current situation and how to fix it. If you agree we have the right players and the system itself is basically solid but needs some creativity injected into it, you have to look at the coaching staff. Terry Murray is a fine hockey coach. He's on the verge of the 500th win of his career, which is no small feat in the NHL. He is a patient teacher and a disciplined man with an even temperament. After Marc Crawford, Terry Murray was exactly what a young, rebuilding team needed. Crawford proved that yelling and pushing hard on young players that are still learning their roles doesn't work, and Terry Murray was the antidote to that. But now that we have more experienced, talented players that know and understand their roles, is a teacher the right fit to get the execution we need? Probably not.

For another way to look at the impact changing the coach and keeping the system, I give you a home remodeling analogy that occurred to me today. Let's say you've been looking around your living room lately and have decided you just can't stand it any longer. You don't even like spending time in the room any more because you're so depressed when you're there. But you check your budget and things are tight, so a complete remodel with different carpet, new furniture and all the fixings just isn't going to happen. You do, however, realize that a new color on the walls could be just the trick and your budget can absolutely handle a couple of cans of paint. So you shop around and decide to change your lemon yellow walls to a lovely shade of cornflower blue. And just like that, you're in love with the room again. Your movies are more fun to watch, you're cuddling with your significant other for the first time in ages and LIFE IS GOOD.

Speaking of paint, maybe the Kings should start with some new photo murals at TSC...

Sometimes a change of scenery is a spark that can make things happen. If Terry Murray is the paint on the Kings walls, maybe changing the color is the inspiration this team needs to get moving again. The only question is, what color do you pick?


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