Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Murraycle worker

They’ve won eight of their last 11 games and suddenly playing hockey in St. Louis is a whole lot more fun than it was a month ago. Since Andy Murray arrived on the scene in Missouri, both players and the fans seem to be taking hockey a bit more seriously.

Murray has managed to do what many thought would be impossible, have an underperforming squad find their game and begin the slow climb back to respectability in the NHL.

Murray took over from Mike Kitchen on December 11th and one month later the Blues are looking to not only improve their play but their position in the standings as well.

And with success on the ice will come success at the box office, having suffered some rather embarrassing crowds at the start of the season, the rejuvenated Blues are beginning to win back the wayward Blues fans.

As well, the resurrection of the Blues has even been timed to coincide with their debut on NBC’s coverage of the NHL for 2007 with a game this Saturday with the LA Kings.

The latest victims to the blazing Blues were the New Jersey Devils who dropped a 3-2 decision to the “western doormat” Blues, a result that was met with typical New York disdain.

For Murray who was thrown under the bus in Los Angeles last year, the quick rebuilding job in St. Louis must be just what the Blues management had hoped for when they decided to replace Kitchen in December.

The team they had purchased in the off season had suffered years of neglect under less than interested owners and basically everyone is starting all over again. While Kitchen was considered a good coach trapped in a rather bad situation, for whatever reason the players refused to buy into his system.

There doesn’t seem to be any such hesitation to follow Murray’s lead, though winning always helps a coach get his message across. It makes for a natural motivating system that seems to build upon itself.

At 37 points on the year so far and still 9 away from a final playoff spot, they aren’t quite ready to print playoff tickets in St. Louis yet, but at least they can start thinking about pricing out paper, which is something that even the most optimistic of Blues wouldn’t’ have dared done a month ago.

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