Yesterday the Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi fired head coach Terry Murray, and replaced him with interim head coach John Stevens.

Following the firing, Lombardi ripped his team, letting them know that they’ve got some blood on their hands in this too. Darren Dreger tweeted:

He didn’t want to fire Terry Murray. He had to, and in his mind, a large part of him doing so was because the players essentially made him with their extended bouts of suckage.

After 18 home games and a mere 11 on the road, the Kings have compiled a 13-12-1 record, bad enough for 12th in the West. And that’s with near-Vezina goaltending from the criminally underpaid Jonathan Quick ($1.8M). They’re also last in the NHL in goals-per-game.

Take a gander at this roster, which should have decent scoring depth, and understand why Lombardi faulted his players.

Drew Doughty - status: underachieving

Two years ago, the NHL sophomore version of Drew Doughty tallied 59 points, improved his plus/minus from his rookie year by 37 (to +20), and was a Norris Trophy candidate. Last year he racked up 40 points in six fewer games, and managed a +13 rating.

This year, Doughty is on pace for 27 points and a -14 season.

I’m not sure if it was getting paid that’s led to such a slow start for Doughty or not, but at 7 million a season, the Kings need better from him. Murray needed better from him.

Dustin Penner - status: underachieving to the point of being a write-off

I’ll save you the agony on this one, and leave it here: Penner earns 4.5 million dollars this season. He has 5 points in 18 games. What could Murray possibly have done with this guy?

Justin Williamsstatus: underachieving

After the lockout, Williams posted 76 points with the Carolina Hurricanes, and proved he was legit the next season with 67 (scoring over 30 goals both years). After an injury plagued season that amounted to 30 points in 37 games, Williams eventually became a King. He put up 57 points in 73 games last season (including 22 goals, just under one every three games), and followed it up this season with….4 goals in 29 games. Not impressive for a guy earning over $3 mill. this year.

Simon Gagnestatus: underachieving

Also earning over $3 mill is this guy, your prototypical “if he could only stay healthy” star. He’s had two 40+ goal seasons in his career, and has been around the point-per-game number in multiple seasons.

Well, he’s healthy, and he’s not producing much. A mere 15 points in 27 games isn’t what the Kings are paying for.

Dustin Brownstatus: underachieving

After four straight years of 50-60 points, Brown is kicking around a point every other game this year. He’s a guy who can still help when not producing offensively, but his pace of 42 points this year would be a sizable drop-off for a guy in the prime of his career. They need more from him too.

*****

You can say it was Murray’s system or his coaching that caused all of these guys to underachieve, but he’d probably claim the opposite – the players poor play made the system look bad.

It’s a chicken or the egg argument that really doesn’t matter – something had to change, and it did. Lombardi decided the blame was both the chicken and the egg’s, fired one and yelled at the other. It was all he could do.

Comments (7)

  1. The players were tired of playing his system because it was so easy to defend. And test, Murray called out a number of these players by saying, “I need more from x player.”
    Is that really how a good coach gets more from his players?
    -Coach Murray, can you comment on Doughty’s game?
    - He needs to be better.
    Oh. Alright. Then what are his instructions? Stick to the system. More pucks to the net.
    Yeah, that’ll work.

  2. What did you want him to go, go on the ice with Doughty and hold his hand? Kings fans give these players a free ride year in, year out and always want to blame the coach or GM. Guess what? The only people on the ice are the players and it’s nobody’s fault that they suck but their own.

  3. If they’re confined to a system that doesn’t work, and get called out for not making it work, then the coach should get fired, which is what happened.

    Also, Kings fans never give their players free rides. Just ask Dustin Penner, Alex Frolov, Jack Johnson, and every goalie before Quick.

  4. Kings fans have long debated the ability of Brown to lead/rally the team. There’s also been fairly lengthy discussion about this team’s lack of attitude/swagger/killer instinct and at some point, you need to bring in some guys or a coach that can show the rest of them what it means to play at the elite level. DL landed Mike Richards, which i think will help in the long run (and is already paying dividends). He went after Brad Richards which probably would have gone along way in the locker room as well. But ultimately, the team isn’t producing. Personally, i don’t think it was Murray’s system so much as his inability/unwillingness to motivate his players or teach them the mental side of winning. They just don’t have it, and they need somebody who can lead them properly. Murray wasn’t working in that regard. I’m also of the opinion that Brown won’t be with the team much longer if they don’t right this ship quick. Even if they get things going, he should be scared for his job on this team.

  5. Lombardi is also to blame. He brought these players in and authorized their contracts. he should fire himself.

    • Ultimately, if they don’t succeed, he will be gone. If they don’t make a deep run within the next 2 years I’d wager. But just because your troops stop producing doesnt mean you up and quit. 95% of the hockey world thought the KIngs would be much MUCH better than they are right now before the season started. If you look at these guys resumes, i think most people still believe they can pull it together.

  6. The team is fantastic on paper. Two very solid scoring lines, great goalie, gritty bottom six, solid D, a couple of very good puck-moving d…. so why aren’t they winning? I’d fire the coach too and maybe take it easy on the team, unless he’s pretty sure the team is slacking off. In which case, maybe I’d keep my coach and start scratching guys for AHL call-ups until they get the message. It’s crazy to think that I’m not a GM with all of this knowledge. Oh well, their loss.

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