Andy Murray To Be Named Western Michigan Coach
CHN Staff Report
Andy Murray, who has had two separate stints leading NHL teams, will be named Western Michigan's new coach at a noon (ET) news conference Tuesday, sources have indicated.
Murray, 60, was head coach of the NHL's St. Louis Blues from 2006 until his firing in January, 2010. He previously was head coach of the Los Angeles Kings from 1999 until March 2006.
Murray's sons, Brady and Jordy, have played college hockey, at North Dakota and Wisconsin, respectively, and he has shown interest in coaching in Division I before. Murray was a finalist for the Rensselaer head coaching opening in 2006, but RPI hesitated to hire him, concerned he may be using the job as a stepping stone back to the NHL, and Murray pulled himself out of the running. RPI hired Seth Appert instead.
The move fills a big hole for Western Michigan, created by the departure of Jeff Blashill, who was recently named an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings. Trying to remain a major player in college hockey amid a rapidly shifting landscape, the Broncos went for a big name over candidates such as Nebraska-Omaha assistant coach Mike Hastings and U.S. National Development Team coach Ron Rolston.
Western Michigan had a major turnaround last season under Blashill, his only year on the job, going from CCHA doormat to NCAA Tournament participant. It was the Broncos' first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1996. The school then signaled a major commitment to hockey by immediately extending Blashill's contract and giving him a hefty raise. But it wasn't enough to keep him.
Now, with the CCHA's future very cloudy, Western Michigan has already signaled its desire to move into one of the new power conferences.
A native of Manitoba, Murray did not play hockey at a significant level before getting into coaching a local team. From there, he worked his way up to a head coaching position in Switzerland. He returned to the U.S. in 1988 to become an assistant coach in the minor leagues and then the NHL, before returning to Europe. He eventually became head coach of the Canadian National Team from 1996-98, and then coached at Minnesota prep school Shattuck-St. Mary's until getting the job in the NHL with the Kings.