As all of Bluesdom is eagerly Twittering this morning, the Blues announced this morning that Andy Murray has been relieved of his coaching duties. Peoria Rivermen coach Davis Payne has been named the team's interim head coach.
Murray took over for Mike Kitchen in December of 2006 and led the team to a 118-102-40 record before being let go this morning. The team's struggles this year despite the promise of last year's run to the playoffs led to his firing.
Payne has been coach of the Rivermen since July of 2008. He has nine years of minor pro experience as a head coach and he becomes the Blues' 23rd head coach.
The obvious early advantage to having Payne become the coach of the Blues is his track record with young talent. The Blues have been named Hockey's Future's best NHL organization in terms of young talent and prospects for two years running, so if Payne is more accustomed to dealing with the mentality of those types of players, he'll have an edge on retaining the position beyond his current interim status.
UPDATED AT 3:30.
More analysis from Brad Lee:
Going 6-13-3 at home, having a young roster play listlessly several times and sensing the general gloom and doom around the team, team president John Davidson obviously felt he needed to change the direction of the team. What's intereisting is that general manager Larry Pleau had come out and said the team wasn't going to change coaches and that the organization was behind Murray. Apparently they were behind him enough to kick him ou the door.
What a fall this is. Murray was a finalist for the Jack Adams award for coach of the year after the Blues finished the the year in a suprising sixth place. His option year on his contract was picked up right before the season started. That hinted that he had something left to prove with this team when the organization decided to not negotiate an extenstion instead of the option.
I've written a couple times that paying two coaches at once isn't something the Blues can really afford to do which might be why they simply promoted the Peoria coach. It will be interesting to see if Payne sticks in the job at the tender age of 38 or if someone with more NHL experience gets the call.
At the end of the day, this was a joyless hockey team. Murray may be a great strategist, he might hold the players in check and get them to raise their games on a technical level. But if the players aren't having fun, if they're not motivated, it won't work. And I think it's very clear this wasn't working.
- Thanks to oic for the link to Jeremy Rutherford's interview with Andy Murray.
- And to drfrankenweed for the link to the Blues players' interviews about Murray's firing as well as the link with more information on interim head coach Davis Payne.