The path to 1,00 games for Kings Coach Terry Murray, shown back in October,… (Stuart Franklin / Bongarts…)
If there was a way for Kings Coach Terry Murray to slip completely under the radar — perhaps looking for a subterranean route? — you can be sure he would try to find it.
A line buried in the press notes about his 1,000th game behind the bench would probably suit him just fine. Not an entire page of notes, questions from the media and public acknowledgment before Saturday's puck drop against the Minnesota Wild.
Call him refreshingly old school, light on ego and heavy on results.
"It's all about the game here tonight," Murray said after the team's morning skate in El Segundo. "That's the most important thing. We've got to get playing better and we need to win some games."
Coincidentally, Barry Trotz of Nashville hit the same milestone on Saturday but, of course, all of his games as head coach have been with the Predators. There is a Murray family link with Trotz: Bryan Murray, Terry's older brother, once coached Trotz in juniors, in Regina of the Western Hockey League.
The path to 1,000, for Terry Murray, started in Washington in the 1989-90 season and wound through Philadelphia and Florida before the Kings hired him in 2008.
Game No. 1 with Washington came under less than ideal circumstances in January 1990 when Terry replaced Bryan as coach by then General Manager David Poile, who is now the boss of Trotz in Nashville.
There was this telling line from one of the wire stories, regarding the hiring: "….Poile said there was a long pause on the telephone when he offered the job to Terry Murray."
Now, Terry Murray and Trotz are tied for seventh in games coached among NHL active coaches. Heading into the game against the Wild, Murray stood 18th overall in wins, four behind Glen Sather.
Murray's teams made the playoffs 10 of his 14 seasons as head coach, and he reached the 100-win mark with the Kings faster than any previous coach in club history. Emotionally, he provided a soothing effect on his younger players after the often-explosive Marc Crawford era.
"He's pretty calm," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "But there's been meetings over the last two, three years where he gets pretty fired up and generally it's behind closed doors and he takes care of it in a pretty good way.
"I've played for all sorts of coaches and having him especially the last few years, we were a growing team. He didn't come in and yell at a lot of young guys. We had a lot of young guys in here making mistakes; now I think it's benefited some of these young guys that stepped up and played."
Murray said forward Dustin Penner had sustained a hand injury in Thursday's loss to Vancouver and would be out of the lineup. Brad Richardson goes back in Saturday night against the Wild. Just how long Penner will be out is unclear.
"Specifically, it [happened] on one of the power plays," Murray said. "I'm not exactly sure which one it was. ... It's going to be longer than day to day. I can't speculate. ... I don't like to put a specific time on it because it's the wrong message to a player. He's going to be out longer than day to day, though."