By Jeremy Rutherford
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
SAN JOSE, CALIF. — When the Blues' power play finished 30th in the NHL two seasons ago, Andy Murray felt there was a need for change, so he took over the coaching duties from assistant Ray Bennett.
The Blues prospered on the power play last season, ascending to eighth in the league.
But the unit has fallen back to 30th this season, and whatever Murray has tried to improve it hasn't worked. The changes have been both structural and in personnel, including removing Paul Kariya for a stretch of games. MORE BLUES
So now Murray has removed himself. He handed the power-play duties back to Bennett and fellow assistant coach Rick Wamsley before the Blues faced the Dallas Stars on Nov. 25.
"The power play wasn't working," Murray said. "It wasn't the message that was being given. The whole thing wasn't working. So I thought it would be good to change. It's team coaching. At times, I'll have Ray speak in front of the team and I'll have 'Wammer' speak. At this point, I wanted them speaking to the power-play guys."
Murray said he was not coaxed into the move by Blues management. "It was entirely my decision," Murray said. "In fact, I didn't even consult Larry (Pleau) or John (Davidson) ... I just did it myself.
"Nobody told me the year before, 'You need to take the power play over.' I just felt that I needed to do it, and this time, I felt it was good timing for Ray and Wammer to take it over."
Murray called the change a "non-issue."
"When everybody talked about me running it last year, if you remember, I said it was a non-issue," he said. "Ray did a great job. I basically said (last year) that I'm not doing it any different than Ray was. We had some guys that were scoring on their opportunities. I think it's just good to do different things, and that's what we're doing here."
The Blues were operating at 12.2 percent on the power play before the change in Dallas. Since then, they are two for 11 (12.9 percent).
"It mixes things up a bit," said Blues forward Brad Boyes, who has one power-play goal this season after scoring 16 last season. "We've got different views from two guys now. I think that's the biggest thing ... it brings in a different perspective.
"A couple of years ago, it wasn't working and Andy came in and it worked. We're changing it back and see if that works. I don't think it's any more than that."
Boyes said that there is some structural change on the new power play. "We've changed some of the positions around, some of the roles for different guys," he said. "We're just trying to have more of a five-on-five mentality with loose pucks, more guys chasing the puck down ... work on retrieval."
Said Murray: "We're emphasizing the same things. We want shots from the point. We want somebody screening in front. The emphasis is the same. Everything they're doing now, we've done at one time or another."