Kings' uninspired performance led to Terry Murray's dismissal
On a fine summer day in 2008, shortly after Terry Murray was appointed the 22nd coach in the Kings’ rocky history, he predicted the course of the team’s latest rebuilding process.
“You’re going to have to go through a lot,” he said. “A lot of pain. Hard nights, long nights, pain.”
He was right. The under-talented Kings winced through much of Murray’s first season while he stabilized the defense and instilled a sense of purpose, but they reaped the rewards by making the playoffs the next two seasons.
The reason he was fired Monday and that John Stevens will become No. 23 in a line of failed Stanley Cup seekers is that the Kings were enduring hard, long, painful nights again — this time with a high-salaried team whose skill level promised more than it was delivering.
Four straight losses in which the uninspired Kings scored six goals proved the tipping point for General Manager Dean Lombardi. He had tried to avoid this in deference to Murray’s conscientious nature and unwavering class but on Sunday, with the Kings 12th in the West and averaging a league-low 2.24 goals per game despite the highest payroll in their history, he had no choice but to dismiss Murray and put Stevens in charge on an interim basis. Read that as until Darryl Sutter can take over.
For the first time in Lombardi’s tenure the Kings faced pressure to win. They responded by finding ways to lose, and Murray’s praise of one or two aspects of their game was ringing hollow. They anticipated making a big leap this season but were giving no indication they were capable of it.