GLENS FALLS -- The only reason head coach Terry Murray would not be behind the Adirondack Phantoms’ bench next year is if he’s behind an NHL team’s.
That’s what Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said on Sunday.
Holmgren said he “absolutely” sees Murray back in the same position next year.
“Well, you never know what some other team might have aspirations of him being a coach in the NHL and obviously, we’d never stand in his way,” he said. “I think Terry does a good job of not only developing players to be hockey players, but to be good pros. I’m really happy with that.”
Murray’s first year with the Phantoms has not been a successful one overall. The team has spent most of the season in last place in the conference. Not even a .500 record in the last quarter of the season could pull them out of the basement.
Holmgren does not consider the fault to be Murray’s. He said the coach has “done a good job with what he had.”
“Terry’s coached a lot of games,” Holmgren said. “He’s played at the American League level, been a good player and the American League, he’s been a good player in the NHL. He’s been a good coach at both levels, had a lot of success. I think he’s the perfect guy to have in this situation.”
Murray, the team’s third coach in four years, said taking over a team — especially one that hasn’t made the playoffs — is a process, though sometimes a “painful” one.
The Phantoms will be in Glens Falls for one more year for fans to see if the process has been worth it. The team has not officially signed the option for next year, but both the mayor and owner Rob Brooks said the team intends to do that.
“The most important thing for us, right now, is that we are starting to climb, we are starting to be better,” Murray said. “There’s parts of the game that are very consistent and very dependable. There are players that I trust in situations and they trust the coaching staff. There’s a good chemistry building and we just need to push that through the weekend and carry it over.”
The Phantoms have won nine of their last 18 games and have been strong on special teams. They have beaten teams that have something to play for — a spot in the playoffs or at the top of their divisions.
Adirondack started the season as one of the youngest teams in the league in terms of professional experience. Murray said that is part of the process, learning to become a professional.
He also said there are two schools of thought for a team in a developmental league.
“You can put together a group that going to win right away, or be one of the best teams in the league,” he said. “Philosophically, you can go that way, or you can put a bunch of young guys in, develop the young players, let them play and let them learn on the job. That’s the direction we’ve taken here.”
If the Phantoms win their final three games, they could finish the final quarter with a winning record and potentially in second-to-last instead of last place.
Either way, the bench is likely to look very similar next year, players and coaches alike, according to Holmgren.