Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mr. Murray takes the reins

They are possibly the worst team in the NHL on any given night, a team that long ago forgot how to win games and on some nights appears to only go through the motions in a season far too long for such a distraction.

The team represents one of the former bedrocks of the NHL's first wave of expansion in the sixties. A once successful organization that brought hockey to the mid-west and made the Blues the model for expansion teams to come.

But the last number of years have not been kind to the Blues or their fans. Successive ownership groups let the team atrophy away, the fans began to realize that ownership had not interest in a winner and so they sought out other ways to spend their money. such is the landscape that Andy Murray enters as he tries to reverse the horrendous slide of the Blues.

Murray was hired earlier this week after the Blues management led by John Davidson came to the conclusion that the team had quit on their coach Mike Kitchen, with the losses piling up and the crowds beginning to rival those of pee wee hockey at 5 am a move was needed.

The Sporting News captures the spirit of the transition quite well, with a story posted on MSNBC, Ray Slover explains how the players had long since tuned out Kitchen, going through the motions and wracking up the losses as they went.

While you have to wonder if a complete gutting of the team might not be required, in the new era of the NHL it's hard to turn the ship as quickly as in the past. The salary concerns and limited trade opportunities due to the cap make the quick fix the thing of the past. What's needed is patience it seems and a teacher for players that seem to have forgotten how to play.

Murray fits the bill of teacher quite nicely, his dedication to his craft however would seem about to be severely tested. The Blues are a mess and it's going to take more than a coaching change to turn things around soon.

They made a good choice in their bench boss selection, what should come next is some movement on the bench, there would seem to have been a few too many passengers there this year.

If the Blues hope to make the best of Murray's skills, they should find a way to provide him with the talent to get the job done.

So far it's been a rough road for Murray, two games and two losses. Yet the impression in St. Louis is that Davidson made the right decision. What they need to see now is some more tough decision making and some movement on the roster to give Murray a chance to turn things around.

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