The idea of returning to the American Hockey League caught Terry Murray “off guard.” But the longer the veteran NHL coach thought about it, the more he warmed to the thought.
The Philadelphia Flyers named Murray the head coach of the Adirondack Phantoms on Friday.
Murray, 61, had been looking for a coaching job since being fired by the Los Angeles Kings in December. The Kings went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Going to the AHL, where he last coached 22 years ago, wasn’t on his radar before the Flyers reached out.
“I got a call from (general manager) Paul Holmgren before the draft. We made a commitment over the phone to do this,” Murray said. “There wasn’t a lot of stuff coming in from the NHL teams after I got fired in L.A. The phone rings for about four or five days and then it goes silent, and there was nothing up until Homer called me.”
Murray brings an unprecedented amount of experience to the Phantoms job. Over 15 seasons, Murray has won 1,012 NHL games, the most for anyone that’s been hired to coach in the AHL.
When contemplating the offer, he thought of the experience of one his former coaches, Pat Quinn, whose experience coaching the Canadian junior team in 2009 was a springboard to an NHL return.
“He’s a guy who loves to coach, and that’s what I am,” Murray said. “I’m a hockey coach, I love to coach.”
While the majority of Murray’s experience is in the NHL — he coached the AHL Baltimore Skipjacks for two seasons — he’s no stranger to young players.
Murray likened it to the situation he took over in Los Angeles four seasons ago.
“That was a team that was very, very young. The youngest team in the NHL ... a lot of guys coming in their first year of pro hockey,” Murray said. “There’s guys that I coached that put the Stanley Cup over their head this year that had their first goal, their first save, their first pass, their first hit in the NHL, and some guys had their first time in pro hockey. So, I’ve been through it.”
Murray replaces Joe Paterson, who was fired last month after a season and a half at the helm. He is the eighth coach in franchise history and the fourth in the last four seasons.
The Phantoms haven’t made the playoffs since 2009 and haven’t won a playoff game since 2008.
Murray enters his fifth stint with the Flyers.
He twice played for the Flyers and was the head coach between 1994-97. He was fired by the Flyers in 1997, shortly after they were swept in the Stanley Cup Finals by the Detroit Red Wings.
Murray later returned to the organization as a pro scout and then became the team’s assistant coach between 2004-08, when he left to become the Kings head coach.
“The Flyers ... it always seemed to me anyway, put good players in their minor-league system. Many years I go back with watching the Phantoms when I was coaching, or the assistant coach of the Flyers, and they were always a very competitive team with a lot of prospects,” Murray said.
“It’s up to the coaching from there to do their job, too. You’ve got to take these kids and bring them together to a team as quickly as possible, and help them get to the National Hockey League as players. That’s the thing I feel I can do a good job with. I feel I build good teams and get the right attitude and right chemistry together, and let them go play the game.”
Murray said he anticipates that Riley Cote and Kjell Samuelsson will return as his assistant coaches.
Murray’s familiarity with Glens Falls is limited.
Terry Murray played at the Civic Center as a member of the Maine Mariners in 1979. His brother, Bryan, was the Detroit Red Wings General Manager in the early ’90s.
Moving from one of the largest markets in the NHL to the smallest in the AHL doesn’t bother Murray, he said.
“You want to make the playoffs, you want to win the championship. That doesn’t change from a major market out in L.A, from Philadelphia, to Adirondack,” Murray said. Once you get in the building, you get in your office, you turn on the video machine, you’re reviewing the game on tape, you’re preparing for your meetings, you’re getting on the ice. The ice is 200 by 85. It’s the same as it is in any NHL rink. That’s your focus.”
In another move Friday, the Flyers named former player Ian Laperriere Director of Player Development.
Laperriere has been working with the organization’s prospects since an injury ended his playing career in 2010.
“It’s a job that suits me well,” Laperriere said. “It’s one of those jobs that you need a relationship with the young guys and you need to have some experience, and I think I have both. I’ve always been able to relate well with anybody, from 18-year-old kids to 40-year-old veterans — it’s always been one of my strengths.”
Loose pucks: According to a TSN report Friday, the Flyers did not make qualifying offers to forwards Mike Testwuide and Andrew Rowe, making them both unrestricted free agents on July 1. Testwuide and Rowe both played two seasons with the Phantoms.