Monday, December 12, 2011

Royal Flush: Murray fired, Stevens hired in LA

by Jeff Kruczynski
Special to the Phanatic

The coaching carousel in the NHL is often a swift one, but it often makes its revolutions and sweeps up the same names over and over again. That was the case on Monday as a pair of ex-Flyers head coaches essentially swapped places.

Mired in a four-game losing streak with the lowest-scoring offense in the NHL, the Los Angeles Kings fired head coach Terry Murray on Monday, replacing him on an interim basis with assistant John Stevens.

"[The players are] accountable. The coach has to pay the price but make no mistake, they're the ones accountable for this," said Kings general manager Dean Lombardi.

The Kings, who are averaging just 2.21 goals per game, are 12th in the Western Conference with a 13-12-4 record.

After two straight playoff appearances and the acquisition of former Flyers captain Mike Richards in the offseason, expectations were elevated for the 2011-12 campaign.

Murray, 61, took over behind the Los Angeles bench for the 2008-09 season in place of Marc Crawford, and compiled a 139-106-30 mark during his tenure with the Kings.

"The team got younger and better under him. He did a lot for this franchise," Lombardi added.

Murray also has held head coaching positions with Washington (1990-94), Philadelphia (1994-97) and Florida (1998-2001).

The 45-year-old Stevens is in his second season with the franchise.

Prior to joining the Kings, Stevens posted a 120-109-34 record while serving as the Flyers head coach from 2006-2009. Philadelphia reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008 under Stevens, who won a Calder Cup championship in 2005 as the head coach of the Flyers' AHL affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms.

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