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Murray holds no grudges

Kings' former coach is coming to L.A. with the Blues and isn't bringing a personal agenda.

January 17, 2007|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Andy Murray, coach of the St. Louis Blues, acted surprised Tuesday morning when asked about his return to Staples Center this week.

"Is that where we go next?" Murray said.

Yup, Thursday night against the Kings. That's the organization that fired him in March, after seven years, as a season with so much promise dissolved into a mess that resulted in a complete housecleaning.

Murray, though, claimed he hadn't circled the date on his calendar after being hired as the Blues' coach Dec. 12.

"To be honest, this is such a tough road trip, Phoenix, Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose, that we've tried to present it as four one-game trips," he said while a few of the Blues were going through an optional skate at the Honda Center in preparation for Tuesday night's game against the Ducks.

The Kings heard that kind of coach-speak through five-plus seasons. Murray's reign produced three consecutive Stanley Cup playoff appearances followed by three consecutive flops, including collapses the last two seasons.

He set franchise records both for victories and losses by a coach.

"The biggest thing you realize is the ties you have," Murray said about returning to Los Angeles. "The front-office people, the facilities people at the arena, the players. You can't spend seven years in one place and not develop emotional ties.

"What happened at the end of last year is part of the business. I moved on from that but not the emotional attachments I had there.

"When the job in St. Louis was open, I had endorsements from [former Kings General Manager] Dave Taylor and [Kings Governor] Tim Leiweke. If you walk away from a job bitter, you don't have those kind of relationships."

Murray doesn't return empty-handed. The Blues have a 10-2-3 record in their last 15 games after beating the Ducks, 6-2, Tuesday to escape last place in the conference, climbing over the Kings in the process.

"There really was no other way to go but up," Murray said.

That string of games included two victories over the Kings in St. Louis, though Murray said he did not attach much significance to those beyond the two points the Blues picked up.

Said Murray: "The Kings are my second-favorite team in the Western Conference."

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chris.foster@latimes.com

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