Upon being hired by the club following the 2005-06 season, he instituted a five-year plan. Less than two years ago, his club was thought of to be developmentally only year behind the Chicago Blackhawks and, considering they had just won the Stanley Cup, said comparison was quite the compliment.


We’re now in the sixth year of general manager Dean Lombardi’s five-year plan and the Los Angeles Kings are not the team that most expected them to be by now. On the surface, a four-game losing streak isn’t that bad. After all, I’ve seen much worse. However, from an overall standpoint, the Kings should not look this way.


It does seem fitting that young teams like the Florida Panthers, St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild are all excelling right now and rightfully so. Like Los Angeles, the aforementioned have spent the last few years drafting wisely, making key trades and even signing a free agent here and there. The Wild currently hold the best record in the entire league, the Panthers are finally coming around after a decade-plus of missing the playoffs and the Blues are finally playing up to their potential after firing their head coach. Then you look at the Los Angeles Kings who, under the tutelage of head coach Terry Murray, play an out-dated defensive system that encourages me to watch something else while the game’s on.


As one King fan mentioned to me last night, to say that watching the Kings is as boring as watching bread rise is an insult to bread. I couldn’t agree more. When I watch other teams play, I see an exciting, wide-open style of hockey. Yet with the Kings, it’s like watching the Minnesota Wild of the early 2000’s under the leadership of Jacques Lemaire. The only difference was that the Wild actually won. Now, according to the powers-that-be, Los Angeles’ struggles aren’t related to Murray’s coaching style but the players themselves. To say that the players don’t deserve some of the blame is stretching it. Yes, they deserve some of the brunt but to let Murray off scot-free? I understand that he’s coached this team to a franchise-record 46 wins in each of the last two seasons but this is now a case of what have you done for me lately?


We’re now at a point where very few Kings fan want to see Terry Murray stay in Los Angeles and who can blame them? This is a team that was supposed to be on the precipice of contending for a championship. Too bad it hasn’t quite worked out that way.


If you want to go back to when Terry Murray’s system actually worked in this league, it would please every Pittsburgh Pirates fan out there as they still had a winning team. The longer Murray is the head coach, the more I’m irritated and even agitated every time Fox shows his expressionless face on the bench. Furthermore, I lose respect for Dean Lombardi with each passing day he doesn’t fire Murray.


Murray didn’t even know how to use or wouldn’t use certain players like Teddy Purcell, Matt Moulson and Brian Boyle. Now, all three of them are enjoying success elsewhere, especially the former two. Even Wayne Simmonds looks like a whole new player as he plays in a much more wide-open system in Philadelphia. I can be bitter but I can also be happy for the aforementioned as I can take comfort in knowing that they’re all free from Murray’s ridiculous system.


I said it once and I’ll say it again: the Los Angeles Kings cannot win with Murray behind the bench. If Dean Lombardi knows what’s good for him, he better show his coach the door or else it’ll be his job and, as far as I’m concerned, I have no problem watching Dean-O go, too.


Year six of a five-year plan: we’re not living in a bizarro world, Lombardi. This team deserves so much better than having to deal with you or your coach. Haven’t the Los Angeles Kings and their fans suffered enough?


I would hope the answer was yes but as long as Lombardi and Murray are running things, there’s nothing to do but to keep dreaming.




Photo: Courtesy of Doug Pensinger/Getty Images