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 Williams – status: 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 Gagne – status: 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 Brown – status: 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.