Kings fire Murray, name Torchetti interim coach

LOS ANGELES -- A winning record wasn't enough for Andy Murray to keep his job as coach of the Los Angeles Kings.

General manager Dave Taylor fired Murray on Tuesday night, saying the team wasn't playing with the same urgency and passion that marked the first half of the season.

Murray sensed it, too, after the Kings were beaten 5-0 by Colorado at home Monday night.

"It's totally disappointing that we would be lacking the sense of urgency that we needed -- to be falling down, mishandling pucks, having scoring opportunities but not being able to get the shot away, losing too many puck battles and not getting saves when we needed them," he said.

The loss was the Kings' fifth defeat in seven games.

"We've been outscored pretty badly and just in general our play, particularly in home games, was the biggest concern for me," Taylor said in a conference call.

John Torchetti will become interim coach Wednesday.

"With John coming aboard, the players will hear a different voice and the players will hear a different perspective," Taylor said.

Assistant John Van Boxmeer was also fired as a result of the Kings' weak power play. He was the other finalist for the top job when Murray was hired in June 1999.

Assistants Mark Hardy and Ray Bennett kept their jobs.

"This is a drastic step, but we're looking to turn things around," Taylor said. "If we did nothing, I felt we were going to continue in this downward direction."

The Kings (37-28-5) entered Tuesday tied with Edmonton for seventh in the Western Conference playoff race, but the Oilers have two more games remaining than Los Angeles -- including a home matchup with ninth-place Vancouver on Tuesday night. The Canucks started Tuesday just one point behind the Kings and Oilers.

"It's a little odd that we're nine games over .500 and we're making a coaching change, but we do have high expectations for our team," Taylor said. "We know we have to play better down the stretch."

Murray said Tuesday he was disappointed that he wasn't able to get the Kings into the playoffs.

"I don't have regrets because the only time you can feel regret is when you didn't try your hardest and didn't put everything in the job that you could. I certainly tried to do that," Murray told KCAL-TV.

Taylor said he had been thinking about firing Murray and Van Boxmeer over the last 20 to 25 games.

"Our team had competed at an outstanding level in the first half of year," he said. "Coming out of the Olympic break, I was hoping with rest that we might be able to turn things around. We've played at a .500 rate since then, which is not good enough."

Murray made the jump to his first NHL head job from coaching at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Faribault, Minn., a prep school south of Minneapolis. He also served as an NHL assistant with Philadelphia, Minnesota and Winnipeg and coached Canada's national team.

Los Angeles reached the playoffs in his first three years before missing the following two seasons.

During the NHL's break for the 2002 Olympics, Murray was seriously injured when the truck he was driving slid off an icy Wisconsin highway. He missed five games while recovering from post-concussion syndrome.

Torchetti went 10-12-4-1 as the Florida Panthers' interim coach at the end of the 2003-04 season. He hasn't been working in the NHL this season but had been scouting games on his own.

Taylor said he will be interviewed for the permanent job.