Tag:Rumor Mill
Posted on: January 27, 2012 10:47 am

Jackets owner in email: Action will be taken

McConnell talks to Chris Clark in 2010. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Talk about being reactionary.

A couple of days after it was announced that fans of the Blue Jackets were going to rally this Saturday outside of the arena in downtown Columbus for the firing of general manager Scott Howson and team president Mike Preist, the owner of the franchise decided to send out an email.

Majority owner John P. McConnell sent out the message to season-ticket holders, talking them through the tough time, more or less. Matt Wagner of Blue Jackets blog The Cannon just so happens to be a season-ticket holder and was kind enough to share the letter he received.

It has the usual stuff about how important the franchise is to the city, they are just as unhappy as the fans about the lack of success, yadda yadda yadda. But here is the most interesting excerpt for me; if you want to read the whole thing visit the link above.

I understand you want to know what we're going to do to fix this, but it is important for us to maintain a degree of discretion to prevent putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage. I can tell you action will be taken in the coming weeks and months, be it around the trade deadline, the entry draft and/or free agency that will be indicative of our direction.

Our goal as an organization is to build a team that wins consistently and competes for the Stanley Cup. Anything less is unacceptable! Everything we do in the coming weeks, months and years will be done to that end and everyone in our organization -- myself, management, staff, coaches and players -- will be held to that standard.

I am very thankful and appreciative of the dedication and passion you have shown as a Blue Jackets fan and I am committed to giving you a team of which you can be proud.

I will say this, I'm glad that he clarified action will be taken via trades, free agency or the draft. That's comforting. I was worried they might try and do something through less conventional channels like telepathy or voodoo.

But truth be told, what makes that interesting is that it reiterates that the Jackets will no doubt be a willing seller in the coming weeks. Rumors are still flying that Jeff Carter, acquired just this summer, could be on the move. That's great and all, but it's going to be very difficult to move his 10-year contract. However if they can find a taker, then he might already be gone.

Besides the canned statement in the email, McConnell also talked to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch with some more colorful and descriptive quotes.

“Every option you can think of is being considered,” McConnell said. “When the ‘nuclear’ option is mentioned, I cringe less now than I did two months ago. That doesn’t mean that’s what we’re going to do, but it certainly becomes a more realistic choice.

“It has to be pretty clear (by the deadline) which way we’re going to go. But one way or another, we are committed to improving. We thought we did this last summer; we didn’t, for whatever reason. It’s hard to put your finger on it, but we’re going to keep searching for the right answers.”

He also stated that neither Priest nor Howson are in trouble of losing their jobs, as far as he is aware (considering he's the majority owner, I hope he'd be aware of such a thing).

At this point the writing is on the wall, ceiling and floor that the Blue Jackets are going to be completely unrecognizable by the time next season starts.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 13, 2012 1:15 pm

Weekend Preview: Brothers Sutter meet in Calgary

By Brian Stubits

One of the many things I love about hockey is that it doesn't revolve around the coaches, they are hardly ever the stories. You can't say the same about other sports, particularly college athletics where the coach is sometimes the only constant there is. In the NHL, a lot of coaches are so quiet I'm not even sure half of the hockey fans out there could name all 30 bench bosses.

But this weekend in Calgary? It's about the coaches. Well it's now partly about a certain player's Flames debut too, but first to the coaches.

The Los Angeles Kings will be traveling to the Saddledome for a slightly awkward reunion. It's the first time that Darryl Sutter has been involved in a game in Calgary since he resigned -- all but forced -- as general manager for the Flames a little more than a year ago, leaving his younger brother Brent behind to continue to coach the Flames.

For those who suggest you shouldn't mix business with family, this is a good example why. During the time they were together working with the Flames, they had some problems with each other to the point that they stopped talking after Darryl was ousted. Imagine that, two brothers getting to the point of not talking based largely on their working relationship.

They were giving each other the silent treatment until Darryl reached out this week and at least reopened the lines of communications. Probably a good idea on many fronts, particularly about the one of avoiding the awkward moment at the game.

“We had a good chit-chat -- it was good,” said Brent, whose brother initiated the call, to the Calgary Sun.

“We talked about their team, about our team ... never once did we talk about anything personally. We talked about the kids. We were all over the map with it. That was the first time I talked to him. It was nice.”

Saturday won't just be the first time these two have been back together at a Flames game since Darryl left, but now it's also about the first time that Mike Cammalleri returns to the Saddledome in a Flames jersey since he left. That's thanks to the Thursday night trade of Cammy to Calgary in exchange for Rene Bourque going to Montreal.

The Flames could use the fire under their behind that perhaps current GM Jay Feaster is trying to send. His team hasn't been playing particularly well and a jolt to the roster might help recharge their playoff push. They aren't dead and buries in that race, especially considering the season is only half over, but they could use a run to help set them up for the finish.

At the least they got a player who's excited to be in Calgary -- again, in the case of Cammalleri.

"I am extremely excited, I was told I was traded and I wasn't sure where. I hoped it was Calgary," he said on Thursday after the trade.

"It's a place that I have such fond memories, I really have strong relationships with some of the players. I really appreciated playing there."

So that will bear watching, no doubt. But it's going to be tough to overcome the drama of the bench bosses.

And I just love it when things come together like this. It means absolutely nothing and has no bearing on anything that will happen on the ice, just little coincidences that are fun to mark. Darryl coached 210 games for the Flames. On Saturday night Brent will coach his, you guessed it, 210th game with the Flames. Not that that will steer the spotlight away from Darryl vs. Brent and the Sutter family equation.

“We’ve now had communication since then, and it has been good,” Brent said.

“Any way you want to look at it, we’re still brothers. I care deeply about what happens with him and how he does.”

Well the family feud will live on for 60 more minutes on Saturday.

Oh, Ottawa

I still haven't decided if the Ottawa Senators are as good as they have shown, but it's getting really tough to deny them based on a small sample size.

Now they have played at least two more games than every other team in the East except for Carolina, but that excuse isn't flying any more either. They are comfortably in the top eight in the East as it stands right now, right on the heels of the Flyers for the fourth seed. When you start beating the Rangers at Madison Square Garden with a shutout no less, then yea, it might be time to believe.

But we're going to find out a lot in the upcoming weeks, starting Saturday. OK, it actually started on Tuesday in Pittsburgh. That was when the Senators played their first of nine road games in a 10-game span. The only interruption in that road show comes on Monday with the Jets coming to Ottawa. After that, they go into their weekend as host for the All-Star Game with a trip that takes them out West.

But they can't play those before the play this weekend's game against the Canadiens first. They seem to be getting Montreal at the perfect time. They have all sorts of struggles and strife to deal with at the moment and could possibly be without P.K. Subban after his hit on David Krejci on Thursday night.

If the Sens can do what most everybody else is doing right now and beat the Habs, they will finish with six points in the three-game road trip.

It sure makes those four All-Star selections a lot easier to swallow, too.

Taking a Flyer

In all honesty, this isn't the best slate of games the NHL has seen this year for the weekend. There aren't a whole lot of really intriguing matchups pitting two elite teams.

But one of the better ones will be in Nashville, a cross-conference battle to boot. The Philadelphia Flyers will take on the Predators in Smashville. Adding a little more intrigue to the good matchup? The in-person scouting that the Flyers might or might not be doing on the opposition.

You are going to hear a lot about the status of Ryan Suter in the coming weeks, his name will surely be at the fore of all the trade speculation unless he signs a contract extension before then. Among the top contenders for his services will be the Flyers, already mentioned in the speculation.

That just adds a little underlying story to what should be a very good game.

Speaking of good games ...

The Blackhawks and Red Wings clash again. They went a long time this season without renewing acquaintances, but now they are meeting seemingly every week.

The next round in their Central Division battle comes on Saturday at the ripe ol' hour of 12:30 from the Joe in St. Louis. I wonder if the Blackhawks will even be functioning at that hour.

Joking aside, hopefully the start time doesn't take away from the quality of games these two put on. The first two meetings this season came in Chicago and each was a 3-2 game (Blackhawks won the first, Wings the second in OT). You can always count on great hockey when these two get together.

Now that realignment has been halted, hopefully the next proposal doesn't split these teams up.

Pesky Stars

That's the nickname that has caught on in Dallas regarding their Stars. Pesky. I guess it's because they won't go away.

Dallas isn't as big of a surprise as a couple of other teams this season, including the above-mentioned Senators, but that doesn't mean they aren't a surprise. Here it is mid-January and they continue to hang around in the Pacific Division race as well as the Western Conference.

They will look to continue their pesky ways against the Colorado Avalanche this weekend. The Avs are as up and down as any team in the league this season. There seems to be no happy medium with them. After their most recent run they are no slipping back down the slope, going into Dallas with a three-game losing streak.

It's a battle of a pair of mild surprises in the West. These all count when it comes down to season's end and each of these hopefuls is trying to sneak into the postseason. The schneid list is getting long.

We're going streaking!

Here are the hot and cold streaks going into the weekend's action.

Senators: Talked about above, they have won three straight and only visit Montreal.

Toronto Maple Leafs: How 'bout them Leafs, huh? They take a four-game win streak into Buffalo on Friday night and if it holds will take a five-gamer into Saturday night's home game against the Rangers.

Predators: Three games and counting heading into the Philly matchup.

Flames: Lost in all the other talk surrounding Calgary, they have actually rattled off three straight wins since returning home from an unfruitful road trip.

Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pens are entering unchartered territory here. They bring a six-game losing streak with them to Florida for the Sunshine State saunter, at the Panthers on Friday, Lightning on Sunday.

Buffalo Sabres: While the Leafs have won four in a row going into Friday's game, the Sabres have lost three straight. They also visit the Islanders on Saturday.

Tampa Bay Lightning: The postseason run followup isn't going as planned. Five straight losses going into Friday at the Capitals, Sunday vs. the Penguins.

Avalanche: How long will this skid go? Right now it's at three games.

Edmonton Oilers: My how long ago that season start seems. They have fallen 23 points behind the Canucks in the Northwest and have lost four in a row. Their one chance to snap that comes against the Kings on Sunday night.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 12, 2012 11:44 am
Edited on: January 12, 2012 11:45 am

Report: Interest in Avery goes up, but no waivers

By Brian Stubits

The twists and turns of a Sean Avery season. Aren't they fun?

Even when he's down in the AHL (where the orange juice refills might or might not be free), he's making noise. Well OK, he's not making the noise, but noise is being made about him. Or something like that.

Twice this season, the 29 teams not named the New York Rangers had a chance to claim Avery off of waivers and have him for their own but passed. Not even two weeks since his most recent demotion to the AHL Connecticut Whale, there is reportedly interest from at least one team to get Avery now.

According to the New York Post, the Rangers have been asked to place Avery on re-entry waivers again so that he can be claimed and wear another team's sweater in the NHL. It's obvious Rangers coach John Tortorella doesn't have any room for Avery on his bench, so why not acquiesce and let Avery go on his merry way? Two words: cap space.

Sources have told The Post general manager Glen Sather rejected that request, instead offering to trade Avery in a minor-league deal under which the Rangers would take back additional dollars but the responsibility for placing Avery on re-entry would then pass to the acquiring club that would then bear the burden of carrying dead salary-cap space upon a claim.


Avery’s full cap hit for the remainder of the season is just a tick over $890,000 as of tomorrow. Therefore, the Rangers would be hit with approximately $445,000 of dead cap space upon a re-entry claim.

The NHL has calculated that scenario would theoretically cost the Rangers $2 million in available space at the Feb. 27 trade deadline: $1 million of accrued space for which the club would be charged plus $1 million it therefore would not save.

That's a pretty penny to spend just to let a player loose. Now we'll find out how interested this mystery suitor/suitors is/are by the willingness to give up something in return to the Rangers.

Trying to think of who could be interested in signing Avery, I would take a Wild guess and say we could exclude the Toronto Maple Leafs after Brian Burke's recent "anti-rat" rant.

I'm not a Rangers fan, about the only people who seem to still love Avery, but for some reason that I still cannot pinpoint, I've come to like Avery a little bit. Maybe it's just that I'm a devil's advocate. I'm not sure. But I'd be interested in seeing him get a fresh start somewhere else. When he was playing, Avery was in good behavior this season for the Rangers. There might still be a fourth-line spot for Avery somewhere in the league.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 12, 2012 10:55 am
Edited on: January 12, 2012 12:12 pm

Habs' Mike Cammalleri: We play like losers

By Brian Stubits

The season is getting away from the Montreal Canadiens so much now that it's not just their never-shy fans calling them losers. One of the Habs fans' biggest targets for their derisive boos, Mike Cammalleri, isn't shy to say it.

"I can't accept that we will display a losing attitude as we're doing this year. We prepare for our games like losers. We play like losers. So it's no wonder why we lose," Cammalleri told Francois Gagnon of RDS and La Presse (by way of TSN).

"When you display a losing attitude like we do now, you lose more often than you win and you stay in the same place. When you show a winning attitude, you are not stifled by mistakes and you respond to a mistake with 15 good plays at the other end, you win and you get out of misery. This is not what we are doing here now."

There's always a fine line to toe in these instances. Some cases this is seen as an honest assessment and much-needed wakeup call for the team. It can just as easily come across as a malcontent who just became a "locker room cancer" That's what you can get for speaking your mind.

I don't think he's in much danger of falling into the latter category in this case, it's more saying the team needs to start expecting to win. I don't see him calling his teammates losers, just that right now they are playing with that kind of mentality. They are defeated team at the moment.

As for the booing? Well, Cammalleri can live with that.

"You've got to be sensitive to the fact that Canadiens fans live and die by their team," Cammalleri said. "So if anything, you can identify with how they feel. They're unhappy, and they let you know it. So I wasn't disappointed; I think more so I probably expected it."

As the whole team probably does. They obviously know full well what playing poorly in Montreal can bring.

Moreover, Cammalleri is a little frustrated by his ice time, or lack thereof. It's been down from what he's used to playing and like any player, he'd like to get more action.

"I'm not playing as much, so I need to get a little work here in practice to stay in shape," Cammalleri told NHL.com. "I'm used to playing 20 minutes a night."

He hasn't been getting that much under interim coach Randy Cunneyworth.

So the Habs have lost seven of their last 10 and are 12th in the East with a player underperforming and seemingly becoming a malcontent. You all know where this is heading, right? It's likely that if nothing else, you'll hear Cammalleri's name floated around in the trade discussions as the deadline approaches in February.

H/t to Pro Hockey Talk

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 11, 2012 2:00 pm
Edited on: January 11, 2012 2:00 pm

Toddler's message to Ryan Suter: Please sign

By Brian Stubits

The Nashville Predators are in an unenviable situation. They entered the season with their three biggest players all needing new contracts. They got one taken care of early by signing goaltender Pekka Rinne. That leaves defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.

Suter has appeared to be next on the list for the general manager David Poille considering he will be an unrestricted free agent this summer while Weber will still be restricted. Obviously as of yet no deal has been reached, so the fans in Nashville are getting in the wooing effort. Even the 1-year-olds.

Predators blog On the Forecheck got a little more background on the video and no, it's not completely staged. A married couple who happen to be big fans of the Preds were discussing the possibility of their favorite player, Suter, leaving.

One of us said out loud "We HAVE to sign him" ( Suter). and my 18-month-old daughter repeated it. We werent sure what she said so we asked her again. and she said "Please sign". I had just gotten the family custom jerseys for Christmas, so we slapped it on her and prayed that she would say it again. She did and we filmed it, as it seemed to sum up exactly what we wanted to say.

They better hope this video helps get Suter under a new contract, and soon.

With every passing day that Suter remains without a contract for next season, the trade speculation will only increase. Point me to a team in the NHL and I'll show you one that would love to add Suter to their defensive corps. Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com just mentioned today that he knows the Flyers, who are looking for some help at defense after Chris Pronger was shut down for the year, covet Suter. As I said, probably most every team does, frankly. He's an excellent and still young defenseman.

I'm still a firm believer that the Predators can and will have all three players back for next season. But I admit, my confidence is getting shaky on the Suter situation.

Suter wants to see that the Predators will be a franchise that can win, and I think they have shown that in the past year. They made it to the playoffs last season and won a series for the first time. They are right in the hunt again this season despite playing in the ridiculously tough Central Division. By committing to Rinne I think it shows their willing to spend some more than the salary floor too. Before the trade deadline, I don't know what else the Predators can do.

That's where this video could come in. I don't think it will do much to help, but it can't hurt.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 10:50 am
Edited on: February 2, 2012 3:53 pm

Ducks GM says all but Selanne, Koivu available

By Brian Stubits

Pick a Duck, any Duck. You can have him if the price is right.

That was pretty much the message that Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray sent to the NHL on Wednesday. The only difference? There are two untouchables: Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, two of the Ducks' three players over the age of 36. They each have no-trade clauses. But if Selanne were asked to be traded, then even he'd be available.

The rest; Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, Cam Fowler and the others? Hey, make an offer.

"And the rest of the players in that locker room, I thought they'd figure out when we changed coaches that time was running, the clock was running quickly here. And I don't care who you talked about," Murray said after the Ducks' 3-1 loss to the Sharks on Wednesday.

"But we will not go to draft picks. It's not my intention."

So it has come to this. I don't think many saw this happening in Anaheim this season. Was it a team with flaws coming into the year? Of course. There's not a lot of depth at the forward position and the defense could be better as a unit.

But who saw Jonas Hiller struggling this much after dealing with vertigo last season? Who saw a team with Perry, Ryan, Getzlaf and Selanne struggling so much to score goals? Who saw the Ducks having only 10 wins though 38 games?

Not many, if any. A coaching change didn't work. Letting the players try and work through it hasn't gone so well. What's left then but to head to the trade market with some amazing assets?

So let the rebuilding begin, right? Well we're going to play a little semantics game and say no. Let the retooling begin.

"We're going to get ready for next year," Murray said.

"I think this team can be turned around to make the playoffs next year. I think it's going to be hard to do it this year but I do want them to make a run. But it's got to happen quick. Everybody knows that. ... Let's start playing better hockey."

Honestly, at this point the last thing I'd hope for if I'm Murray is false hope. This hole is pretty much insurmountable. My colleague Adam Gretz detailed that in a recent edition of Pucks and Numbers.

Murray is in a better place than most GMs trying to do the same. He has a lot of desirable players at relatively cheap prices to move. It's pretty easy to get talented players to help you compete now when dealing from such a position of strength.

The hottest name for most of the season, of course, has been Bobby Ryan. Just before Randy Carlyle was fired, there was a lot of speculation that Ryan was going to be the one hitting the road, not Carlyle. Instead, Carlyle was replaced by Bruce Boudreau and Ryan was seemingly pulled off the block. That didn't last long.

It's a really tough spot for Murray. On one hand, the need for change is obvious. This roster just isn't getting it done. On the other hand his trio of Ryan, Getzlaf and Perry is incredibly talented, young and reasonably priced. That's a great mix, who would actually want to get rid of that? Hence, rock and a hard place. How many of the available players do you trade? All of them? Just one?

"I still believe we have some core players. Now, whether we have to change a few core players, so be it," Murray said. "They're deciding who's staying and who's not staying at this point."

I'd anticipate Murray being pelted with offer after offer for any one of these guys. Of course the price will be high. Murray has made it clear that he wants proven NHL talent in return. What team wouldn't want to get its hands on any of Anaheim's top players?

And I'll just throw this out there: The Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs have done business with one another plenty of times in the past.

Now have fun playing with Cap Geek's trade calculator. See if your favorite team can swing a deal.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 28, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2011 3:47 pm

Blue Jackets GM relents, says team will be active

By Brian Stubits

Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson has seemed to be stubborn for stubborn's sake in the early going. At least in public he hasn't been willing to admit the long odds that are facing his Jackets in their attempt to try and get back in the playoff race. Some might even call them astronomical.

Well it's a Festivus miracle, Howson has seen the light. The team as currently constructed isn't going to "flip a switch" -- one of those clichés I hate so much -- and start instantly playing better. They are what their record says they are -- one of those clichés I don't mind -- which is not a good NHL team. Finally Howson will admit that.

Remember, admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery (from Bob Hunter at the Columbus Post-Dispatch).

“This last five-game stretch has given us a little more clarity,” Howson said. “We’re just not good enough as a team.

“The first six or seven weeks of the season, it was too disjointed,” he said. “We had [James] Wisniewski out. We had [Jeff] Carter out. We had [Radek] Martinek out. We had [Mark] Dekanich out. ... It was just too disjointed to get a clear picture. The picture is becoming clearer now. We aren’t playing well enough and ... me as management has to find a solution to help the team.”

So what's the solution then? Howson still believes it's not changing coaches. It's pretty amazing that six coaches have been fired this season and none of them was Scott Arniel, but Howson doesn't seem interested in getting rid of him yet, doesn't believe the coach is the issue at hand.

He has some other areas of focus instead.

“We’re not good enough defensively, first,” he said. “And that’s a team-wide thing. It’s goaltending, it’s defense, it’s forwards playing together as a group. We gave up six [goals] in St. Louis. We gave up four [in Chicago]. We gave up six in Nashville. We gave up six in Edmonton. You can’t win like that. It’s impossible.”

So with the Christmas roster freeze lifted when the clock struck midnight on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, it figures Howson will begin making and taking some calls trying to upgrade his defense. The only problem is that's a lot easier said than done.

But it's not going to stop Howson from trying.

“We’ll be active.

“Everything’s on the table,” he said. “We’ve got to look at everything. We’ve got to seriously look at everything. Now that’s different than saying, ‘I’m going to phone every GM tomorrow and say who do you want, [Rick] Nash, Carter or [R.J.] Umberger?’ but we’ve got to look at the whole situation and we’ve got to consider everything.”

With that, every team in the league collectively began salivating.

If Howson is insistent on trying to upgrade his team via trades this season, he will likely have to dangle one of those big names if he wants to get any serious returns. It's unlikely that James Wisniewski would also be available, after all he is trying to upgrade the back end. Trading away a defenseman you have committed for years doesn't jive.

One concern too will be the fact that the Jackets don't have a lot of flexibility under the salary cap, so that further opens the idea that one of their big-name players like Carter or Nash could be on the market. It's tough to add some quality players without shedding some salary.

There is still plenty of time before the trade deadline so there is no urgency to get moving right now, but what's to gain by waiting? Howson has given the team ample chance to get things going in the right direction after they got all their players back in the lineup. Yet here the Jackets are, losers of six straight games.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 12, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: December 12, 2011 11:02 am

Report: Kings prepping to fire coach Terry Murray

By Brian Stubits

There have already been four coaches fired this season in the NHL. According to the L.A. Times a fifth could be coming this week.

The report in the Times says the Kings are preparing to fire coach Terry Murray. There is no replacement lined up, so the job would likely go to assistant John Stevens on an interim basis.

At no point were the Kings expected to be fourth in their own division -- which has been subpar as a whole -- and 12th in the Western Conference. Moreover, even with the defensive style that Murray runs, the Kings really have no business being the worst team in the league at scoring. Their 2.24 goals per game is the lowest in the NHL, even below Anaheim.

An offensive cast of Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Simon Gagne, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll and Dustin Penner supported by Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson should be scoring more. Jonathan Quick can only stop so many shots.

Here is what Brown told the Times over the weekend about the way the team has been playing of late.

"We have to be more desperate right now. We have to be more desperate the rest of the year," Brown said Saturday. "We aren't playing with enough intensity or enough desperation. We are a good team and now we are not playing like one."

That never is a ringing endorsement for a coach. Fair or not, players not playing up to their potential will always fall on the bench boss' shoulders. We've seen it a few times already this season. When a team isn't living up to its potential -- or at least the potential that everybody thinks they have -- it's going to be time for the coach to go.

Fair or not, that's the way it works in sports. It's funny to me that in most professions, if the employees aren't getting the job done, it's them who will be fired. Obviously the world of contracts and high-priced ones at that alter the dynamics, so the manager takes the fall.

Adding to the confounding nature of L.A.'s start, so far they have only played 11 road games compared to 18 at home. You wouldn't figure that bodes too well for a team that would like to catch up in the standings.

But the good news for any new coach that takes over in the case Murray is fired? Despite being 12th place in the Western Conference, the Kings are only three points behind the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes for the Pacific Division lead. That doesn't fit anybody's definition of insurmountable.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com