The Blues fired their head coach, Andy Murray, replacing him with 39-year-old Davis Payne. He gets a promotion from the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL.
By all accounts, Murray wasn’t the easiest person to play for. Several Hawks told me they’ve “heard some bad things” about him from Blues players. He did lead them to the playoffs last season with a miraculous second half record of 25-9-7.
Murray was the only opponent I talked to this season reluctant to give the Hawks credit for their lofty record.
“Well, you know, I’m not really here to talk about the Hawks,” Murray said after getting shutout last month by Chicago. “You’re interviewing me, the coach of the Blues. If you want to get an opinion on the Hawks, go and talk to them.”
The effect of his firing on tonight’s game is hard to predict. Obviously, a team in a bit of turmoil is vulnerable, but when a tightly wound coach like Murray is let go it could be a fresh of breath air in the dressing room.
Either way, it’s a tough spot for Payne to begin his NHL career. The Hawks are 8-2 in their last 10 games including a 3-0 shutout against St. Louis on Dec. 16.