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My Preemptive Strike In The Aftermath of Terry Murray’s Dismissal

Okay…

Now that da’ boom has been finally dropped on Terry Murray after the team’s disappointing overall performance through 30 games, speculation is rampant that the Kings and, more specifically, General Manager Dean Lombardi will seek the services of a Darryl.

Hi. My name is Darryl.

No, not that Darryl…

I swear...It wasn't me!

Don’t worry…You’re not the Darryl either.

I kind of look like a cross between Robert Englund and Bill Murray but without teeth, no...?

 Yep…that’s the one…the Bird’s Nest himself…

First, let me just say that I would like to thank Terry Murray for doing a very admirable job during his three full seasons as head coach.  His reserved, stoic and calming demeanor, coupled with his ability to teach sound defensive structure to a young, progressive player core should not be overlooked or ridiculed.

From what I’ve seen of him during his career here and elsewhere, Murray is as classy as they come and led the Kings to some of their best regular season point totals in franchise history.  He should hold his head high as he exits knowing that he leaves the franchise ranking third in wins (139), fourth in games coached (275) and first in winning percentage (.560).

But unfortunately for Murray, he won’t complete (or “compete” any longer in) his fourth season as Kings coach because he was unable to extrapolate consistent offense…or any reliable goal production… from anyone not named Anze Kopitar or Mike Richards.  And his surprising decision not to play Jonathan Quick in the midst of the goaltender’s franchise record three consecutive shutouts will be forever second guessed and could be considered the point when the team lost its early momentum and confidence.

Assistant coach John Stevens enters as Murray’s interim replacement and much like his predecessor, is cut from the same defense-first cloth.  But Stevens takes over the job strictly as an interim coach.  And based upon management’s initial comments, Stevens curiously won’t be given a chance to remove the interim tag and have the opportunity to secure his new position despite how well the team responds and performs under him.  More on that later.

That brings us back to the speculative theories by the many regarding whom will be the Kings next permanent coach.  Tony Granato has been mentioned in these circles, but at the time of this writing, there’s been no official word that the Kings have asked permission to speak to the current Pittsburgh Penguin assistant coach and former Los Angeles left wing fan favorite.

Mark Morris, current head coach of the Kings AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, has also been rumored as a possible long-term replacement.  But based upon Lombardi’s first comments after Murray’s dismissal, it’s very doubtful that he will be sought for this promotion.

So when asked by LA Kings Insider Rich Hammond who is on the list of candidates to replace Murph, Lombardi replied with the following:

“I think it’s fair to say, when you’re in this situation, it’s a very short list.  When you’re with your team, right in the middle of the fray, I think you have a decent idea of what your team (needs) to get jump-started.  So, the list is pretty short.”

Prior to that question, Hammond asked, “Over the years, you’ve spoke very highly of Darryl Sutter.  Is he someone you would reach out to?”

Lombardi responded:

“…there’s no timeline and we’re looking at all our options.  Right now, that as far as I could comment.”

And with that little morsel of info, Sutter’s name skyrocketed to the top of the list by the many bloggers and hockey experts around the league.

The consideration of Sutter is not surprising by any means because of Lombardi’s prior relationship with him in San Jose.  Sutter was hired by Lombardi, the Sharks GM then, to replace Al Sims at the start of the 1997 season.  The two remained conjoined in the shark tank until the end of the ’02-03 season when both were relived of their respective duties because of not living up to the organization’s lofty expectations.

Hmm….Sounds familiar, huh?

Which begs me to ask Lombardi the obvious question:

WHAT…ON SOMEONE’S GOD’S GREAT RINK OF ICE…ARE YOU FRIGGIN’ THINKING?!

Sutter is a defense-first minded coach, perhaps even more so than either Murray or Stevens.  Take a listen here, as he’s being interviewed by Charlie Simmer, the former Kings great and current Flames color commentator:

\”HELP ME…i\’VE SPOKEN AND CAN\’T MAKE SENSE OF IT!\”

This is the man presumably pegged by Lombardi to “jump-start” an offensively famished team such as our Kings?

You want more?

Here he is trying to explain his hideous trade deadline decisions as Calgary’s GM:

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa…I”m on fire…!

Not only is Sutter a retread of the same ol’, same ol’ already tried and failed offensive strategy of what we just experienced with the Murph, but he sounds like he could have an aneurism at any moment.  And after listening to him stammer and stumble his way through that interview with Simmer, it kind of makes you already yearn for another Murray-ism. like “Good Compete”…”Shot Mentality”…”Playing Big”…etc.

Bottom line is that Sutter is not the answer for the Kings.

Let’s even forget about his terrible, destructive reign as Calgary’s GM.  Let’s concentrate on Sutter the coach.  He can’t provide anything different that what Murray did and what Stevens can.  All Sutter is going to do is provide a different voice to deliver the same message.  And you could forget about any offensive creativity coming from him.  Sutter also likes to over-play his top players to the point of exhaustion and tends to solely rely on a team’s veterans to assume all the on-ice responsibilities.

How do these philosophies help get the Kings out of the sink hole they’re currently in?

They don’t…and won’t….if he’s given the chance to be our next head coach.

After taking some time today to think about all the possible directions that Lombardi and the Kings could take, how ’bout this one…:

Give Stevens a legitimate shot at the job – his performance will dictate whether or not a Murray-clone can make it work because that’s what you’re essentially doing if you go and grab Sutter and sign him to an expensive deal.  And if it doesn’t work out, you saved the embarrassment of having to inevitably let go of another high-profile coach in Sutter while keeping many more dollars in AEG’s bank account.  Then, you wait until the end of the season and go after Granato, who will be one of the most sought after off-season coaching commodities.

There’s also been talk that the Kings should go after current Phoenix Coyotes bench boss, Dave Tippett, a former Kings assistant coach during Andy Murray’s helm.  Tippett, who’s contract expires at the end of the season, would also be an excellent future choice.

Doing this might not save the Kings season and/or Lombardi’s job.  But neither will the hiring of Sutter, who will only give the Kings even more headaches and frustration.

And as a loyal Lombardi supporter since his first day, if he decides to go and grab the bird’s nest by his hair comma, I’ll be thoroughly disappointed in him.  It will also prove that Deano ran to his familiar frayed comfy blanket…a la Linus…in the midst of his biggest challenge during his tenure and further illustrate that the Kings need more than just a change of direction on the bench.

Please, Dean…Please…Don’t Hurt ‘em…Or Us!

12 comments to My Preemptive Strike In The Aftermath of Terry Murray’s Dismissal

  • Jason4Kings

    Interesting. I just asked these questions at the bottom of Cynic’s last post before I read this. I can’t figure out if Steven’s is being given an opportunity or not. I hope Lombardi doesn’t, and don’t think he will, give Sutter the contract. I could be very wrong though. If Stevens can step up with a few tweaks to add a goal or two now and then we could be in business. Or, bringing Morris up to finish the season (not sure how the contract stuff works). If neither of those work I’d say Dave Tippett next year ( someone said his contract is up, I haven’t looked), or talking to Granato. Emotionally, Tony Granato sounds awesome, but it’s risky. Tippett would probably be my first choice.

  • Solid man. You’ve convinced me. But I think DL is going to let his emotions make this decision.

  • If Sutter is on the short list and gets chosen, he’ll be riding in here on the short bus! Couldn’t agree more he’d be the WRONG choice. I’d lose a lot of respect for DL for sure.

    I’ve said it a lot as Jason also said, if we wait until the end of the season and go with Stevens, we go after Tippett the MINUTE his contract is up in Phoenix. No question. Tony Granato, loved that guy, but I’d take Tippett over TG in a New York Minute!

    Absolutely great post Waves. Get the link on the insider Stat.

  • KingsfanFTW

    i know the Kings need a Offense minded kind of coach

  • kings4queens

    I’m pretty disappointed that DL didn’t have enough creativity to bring Morris up as the interim coach. He has coached many of these players into finals. They all know him. If you google Morris you will see that he has been a coach for a very long time and tends to lead his team to victory, whether it’s college or AHL. Most of the guys on the roster who have been coached by him were better there than in the NHL. Is that too radical for DL. I’m beginning to think that he is as rigid as Murph.

    Having Stevens as interim coach makes the whole firing of Murray a farce. It will be more of the same. Same philosophy, same stale power play. If Stevens could have inspired this team he would have already done it as assistant coach.

    These players need a coach that inspires them!!

    • @kings4queens: Well, he hasn’t chosen anyone yet, but I’m not sure Morris is on the short list either. It may be bad timing for Morris to get chosen because whoever DL hires will reflect greatly on his future. I think he knows this pick must be a dynamic one and hiring your AHL coach is not dynamic.

      I know it doesn’t seem right or fair, and Morris is a fine coach, but there are other options DL has that could make a bigger splash and turn some heads. Could be his pick will be as much about his job as it is the right coach.

      Good to see you over here!

  • Jack

    The only thing fans remember fondly is victories/Splashy moves only work short term unless you get lucky.
    If Morris makes sense at the hockey level, he should pursue it. Unless Morris might not want to..If the team ends up ina very good note with increased offense, his job will be secure.

  • Scot

    Great job variable.. Love reading your posts, along with Cynic’s.

    As I mentioned to Cynic in one of his posts on this site, we worry that DL is not the right GM. He said that Luc Robitaille is trying to instill a “Red Wings type” mindset within the Kings organization, as Luc got to see first hand what that organization is all about. Hiring Darryl Sutter would not be a Red Wings type decision. It’s a B-franchise decision.

    Haunts me to think that the Kings organization could be corrupt with poor management & leadership from the very, very top.

    • @Scot:

      thanks, SCOT…(!)

      i really appreciate the kind words…

      the team is in a terrible situation right now…and we all hope that the season is not in danger of becoming lost and forgettable…

  • TheAcaciaStrain

    My God I had no idea this site existed, like 90% of my posts that follow the rules on LAKingsInsider don’t get posted because that site is an extension of Kings marketing, and any comment too critical of DL or Management in general doesn’t get posted. Great post here, and I 100% agree with your sentiments, nice to know someone thinks the same way I do, I’ll be checking back here often.