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Kings Coach Terry Murray says he 'overreacted' in criticizing fans for booing

The Kings, just back from a 4-0 trip, were booed off the ice after the second period of Thursday's 4-0 loss to St. Louis. Players say they understand fans' frustration; Murray says his frustration got the best of him.

March 18, 2011|By Helene Elliott
  • Kings Coach Terry Murray says Thursday's 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues was "a night to forget."
Kings Coach Terry Murray says Thursday's 4-0 loss to the St. Louis… (Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire )

Hearing Coach Terry Murray describe being booed off the ice after the second period of the Kings' 4-0 loss to St. Louis at Staples Center on Thursday night as "the most embarrassing thing I have ever been through" was surprising for several reasons.

For one, Murray coached in Philadelphia, where fans are knowledgeable, passionate and not shy about expressing themselves. He surely heard worse there, maybe after saying his Flyers were in "a choking situation" before they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1997 Stanley Cup finals.

Second is that the Kings notified season-ticket holders last month that prices will increase for next season, and it doesn't make business sense to alienate people who have displayed remarkable patience and loyalty — and might not have renewed their tickets yet.

Terry Murray is angry ? with the fans

Lastly, according to defenseman Willie Mitchell, the whole thing wasn't so awful.

"I didn't think it was too bad. I played in Vancouver. You want to see a good boo, you look there," Mitchell said Friday. "When you don't play well in Vancouver you know it. The whole place is booing. And it's loud.

"It was just one of those games that happen during the course of the year. We've been playing great hockey. What I always say is that in a team — it doesn't matter whether in a corporation team or a team as in hockey, like we are — if four or five guys have an off night the other 15 can make up for it. When you have 12 or 13 have an off night, you see what happened [Thursday] night.

"The stars aligned and a bunch of guys had an off night and we just couldn't generate anything. No one had any legs. Those happen once in a while and you just check it at the door and almost kind of laugh about it and get back to what we know we can do."

Fans' unhappiness was probably fueled by getting a dud of a game on St. Patrick's Day, usually an occasion to party.

"They probably wanted to have a few more beverages to celebrate and we weren't giving them that opportunity, so to speak," Mitchell said, laughing. "Maybe we were all a little disappointed in what we were delivering to them on their festive day."

Murray explained his outburst as the product of frustration.

"I overreacted probably, in saying . . . you don't want to drag them into the reason why, but I did. There's nothing I can do about it now," he said after the team practiced for Saturday's game against the Ducks at Staples Center.

"It's never the right thing to throw stuff at your fans. I know that. It was a night to forget."

He also said he "screwed up" by giving players Wednesday off after the team returned home from Nashville after a 4-0 trip.

"I think I should have brought the team to the rink for a 12:30, 30-minute skill session only, just to keep your mind in it, keep your body going, flush the legs out," he said. "I've got to take a lot of responsibility for that. With a young hockey club, especially, it's very easy to take that sigh of relief again coming off the road and say, 'Now it's going to be a little bit easier,' when it only gets harder."

Enforcer Kevin Westgarth said he believed the boos Thursday were directed at the performance, not the players. "You'll see that after power plays that don't work out," he said.

But he understood fans' displeasure.

"People spend a lot of money and a lot of time and it's a great event, a big thing to go to, and when you go and we give a performance like that it [stinks]," he said. "There is nothing worse than getting booed in your own building, though. I suppose they have to know we're probably more ticked off than they are. We definitely understand, but you always want that support. We know that it's there and people get frustrated."

That frustration will vanish if the Kings play well against the Ducks.

"Exactly," Westgarth said. "The game itself is fickle so you can't really expect anything else from everybody in it."

In praise of fan loyalty

Murray said his mood began to go sour from the start.

"The turnovers, being outbattled along the boards, dot-to-boards, giving up the great scoring chances we did, our power play right at the start we have an opportunity to do something and we don't," he said. "We turn the puck over. We go offside on it right at the start.

"It's just a lot of things that were frustrating. And obviously the fact that we [had] six shots at the end of the second period was glaring at me the whole game. And then to give up that late goal, it was a reaction to a very frustrated coach. Just disappointing.

"That's the last thing you want to hear going into the dressing room. You're trying to find a way to start a fire in there, to get a good 20 minutes of hockey, and that's what you go into the room with, that kind of, you're remembering that probably as much as anything that's happening in the game.

"So I was frustrated."

He also praised fans for their loyalty.

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