Columbus defenseman Ryan Murray will play his 10th game of the season tonight, meaning he’ll no longer be eligible to return to junior and have a year of his entry-level contract saved.
Not that any of this is news to Murray.
The rookie blueliner was informed he’d be sticking with the team earlier this week, according to the Columbus Dispatch. Murray, 20, said GM Jarmo Kekalainen went around the dressing room and told Murray to “get a place” in Columbus, the unofficial confirmation that Murray wouldn’t be headed back to WHL Everett.
The second overall pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Murray has fared well for Columbus in his rookie campaign. While he’s been limited offensively — just one point through nine games — he’s looked good in other facets, averaging 16:29 TOI per contest while boasting a plus-3 rating, third-best on the team.
For further confirmation of how well Murray’s played, here’s Columbus head coach Todd Richards:
“Ryan’s made some youthful mistakes, but they come from really dominating the league he played in (Western Hockey League). Some of those are habits and you just do it, and sometimes it gets you out of position. When you’re playing at this level, with the strength and speed and size of these guys, you can’t recover.
“But there haven’t been too many of them. To me, he’s one guy who has really helped solidify our back end, which is really an impressive thing to say about a rookie.”
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Kings GM Dean Lombardi ranks among the NHL’s most outspoken executives. Even so, his discussion of what he calls Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.” (Bold claim: the production part was probably the bigger sticking point.)
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the Lombardi and the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.