QUESTION: The Blues are really struggling to win games and coach Andy Murray got the dreaded “vote of confidence” from owner Dave Checketts last week. Murray obviously did a great job getting this team to play well down the stretch last year to make a run to the playoffs, but do you believe he can take this current team to the next level?
Andy Murray proved last season that he could be a successful coach with this roster, taking the Blues from 15th place in the West to sixth place in two months time. However, what management wants to see is a “complete” season from a Murray-coached team.
It’s unfair to look back at the 2006-07 season because Murray didn’t arrive until Dec. 12, 2006. But let’s look at the last three seasons:
2007-08: 22-14-5 (49 points) in first half of season . . . 11-22-8 (30 points) in second half
2008-09: 16-22-3 (35 points) in first half of season . . . 25-9-7 (57 points) in second half.
2009-10: 6-8-4 (16 points) through 18 games . . .
There is no rhyme or reason as to why Murray’s teams are good for a half and bad for a half. Before he can coach the Blues to the “next level,” there has to be more consistency throughout the regular season.
Right now Murray’s program has stalled out. So, at the moment, he doesn’t look like the right coach to move the program forward. He has to change that perception ASAP. This is one of those critical points that pop up from time to time in a coaching regime. If this team doesn’t produce a nice five- or six-game winning streak pretty soon, John Davidson will have to change things up. The veteran players are failing Murray at the offensive end — and such players are almost impossible to move in the salary cap era of the NHL. With rosters so difficult to overhaul these days, that really puts the pressure on coaches. That’s not fair, but that’s the way it is.
I don’t think Andy Murray will have any trouble taking this team to the next level, as long as David Backes (31 goals last season) scores more than once this season, as long as T. J. Oshie scores more than twice, as long as Paul Kariya gets another point – he hasn’t in 10 games, as long as Brad Boyes gets back the pace he’s shown the past couple of seasons, as long as Erik Johnson contributes more than one goal this season.
According to the most recent NHL stats, Murray hasn’t had a shot on goal all season. Only four teams in the league have a smaller goals-against average per game than the Blues’ average of 2.5. Coaching isn’t the problem.
ANDY STRICKLAND (Hockeybuzz.com, KFNS)
At times Andy Murray can be his own worst enemy. If Murray is going to have a chance to take this team to the next level he’s going to have to make some adjustments, most importantly how he runs his bench. A wise hockey man once told me every coach has a shelf life and it doesn’t take long before fatigue and illness sets in with a coach. Fatigue and illness kicks in when management gets sick and tired of the coach. Are we there yet? Coaches get fired, it’s a way of life. Maybe the biggest issue with Murray is that he focuses way too much on the opposition during a hockey game. Sometimes it’s just best to pay more attention to your own team and force the opponent to react to what you do. At the end of the day you have to win to keep your job and if Dave Checketts is serious with the words he said last week, then Murray better kick it in high gear before it’s too late. Same goes with the players who most definitely have yet to live up to their end of the bargain. The fact the Blues picked up Murray’s option certainly works in his favor. The Blues do not want to be in a position where they’re paying two coaches. If the teams doesn’t start winning they may not have a choice. The Blues will let this thing breathe for a few more weeks before they rush into any major shakeup. LINK
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