Whenever sportswriters opine about a coach "losing the locker room," it's a delicate declaration. Conditions can change with a single week's winning streak, and the off-the-record grumblings of a fourth-liner are just empty gripes if the coach has the backing of the team's power structure. St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz wonders if coach Andy Murray
has "lost the room," as the once-promising Blues drop like a stone in the conference standings:
The grumbling is intensifying over Murray's many meetings and other matters. For his part, Murray has publicly questioned the players' effort. This isn't a happy group. The players responded dramatically when Murray took over for Mike Kitchen on Dec. 11, 2006, but the charm has worn off. Since March 3, 2007, the Blues are 34-35-14. Since Dec. 9 of this season, the Blues have the fewest wins in the league. The talent level hasn't dropped, but the morale seems to be sinking.
This accusation might be dismissed as a byproduct of the team's overall disappointment, rather than its catalyst. But as Steven Ovadia pointed out,
that would ignore the fact that Murray's tenure in Los Angeles ended when the players tuned him out. As Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period wrote in his eulogy back in 2006,
it was "doubtful anyone in the locker room will be shedding a tear for the man":
Insiders say that the Murray's controlling nature and exacting detail took a toll on the team, especially veterans like Luc Robitaille and Jeremy Roenick. "Andy scripted out everything and that might work for 50-60 games but to have a player's every movement on and off the ice planned, it leaves no room for creativity. I think that wears on the veterans in the group as the season progresses," said a source close to the team.
Whatever the case, Murray has enough support from management to return behind the St. Louis bench again next season. He was signed to a "long term" contract when he replaced Mike Kitchen in Dec. 2006.