Murray rolls with punches

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

Hey, at least one good thing happened to Andy Murray yesterday.

The fired Los Angeles Kings head coach finally got to talk to his old buddy Randy Carlyle, who, until Tuesday night, had been his arch nemesis as the leader of the cross-town Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

"We haven't been talking this year," Murray said with a laugh last night from L.A. "We've always talked a lot before, and we're good friends, but we're pretty fierce competitors now.

"So he called, and I said, 'We can finally talk, can't we?' and he kind of laughed."

Carlyle, the former coach of the Manitoba Moose, had the same feeling that many others had yesterday: Why was Murray fired with 12 games remaining in the season and his team nine games above .500?

"He didn't think it was right, either," said Murray, "and all the coaches and players that have called me all say that, but we all know it's part of the business."

L.A. is in a heated battle for a playoff spot in the NHL's Western Conference, and it has remained in the thick of things despite the fact that offensive stars Pavol Demitra and Alexander Frolov have missed a combined 32 games since Jan. 7.

Those two are expected back for Saturday's home game against Nashville.

"I personally felt they could have waited for 12 more games," said Murray. "Our opinion was that we were going to get it done here with our (full) lineup and that we'd be moving on in the playoffs, too."

Kings GM Dave Taylor said the team needed a new voice. L.A. Times columnist Helene Elliott suggested the players "long ago stopped listening" to Murray, who had "worn them out." Sun Media's Al Strachan also said Murray had lost the locker-room.

"I've heard from most of the players today, and I know what their feelings are," the former Brandon University Bobcats coach said. "People always say that after the fact. We had maybe our best practice of the year yesterday, and we were excited to have Frolov and them back in the lineup.

"I wouldn't subscribe to that. I've been here seven years, but we tried to keep the ideas fresh to keep them energized. I don't believe it was an issue."

Murray will spend the next few days in California before heading to Switzerland to watch his son, Brady, play for Rapperswil in the Swiss Elite League playoffs.

"I'm going to watch my kids play a lot of hockey right now," he said.

And then it will be time to find another job.

"I like coaching, and I like coaching at any level," said Murray. "I think there will be NHL opportunities, but whatever I think is the right situation, be it NHL, junior, college, Europe or peewee, I'm going to do that.

"I enjoy what I do, and I want to get back going at it right away."


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