The Blues firing coach Andy Murray was interesting in that many people are saying Murray’s big issue was being too old to relate to his players.
Murray is 58. He was replaced by Davis Payne, 39.
Jeff Gordon said a bigger issue was Murray’s reluctance to develop the team’s young core, perhaps a side-effect of Murray’s age.
I was curious if Murray’s age was that out of line with NHL norms (see chart below).
With the hiring of Payne as the new Blues coach, the median age of an NHL coach is now 48. So Murray was a bit older than his cohort of coaches.
It’s interesting to look at those older coaches, though. They include Jacques Lemaire, 64, of the Devils, who’s coaching one of the best teams in the NHL.
The cohort also includes Washington’s Bruce Boudreau, 54, who’s done an incredible job guiding a young Washington team.
But you also have to notice Pat Quinn, 66, the NHL’s oldest coach, who seems to have had very little impact on Edmonton, and who in fact, might be more of a figurehead than a coach.
As near as I can tell, though, age isn’t a huge indicator of coaching failure or success.
St. Louis seems to be spinning the coaching move as an age thing, probably because fans want to buy into the idea that a hugely successful team is right around the corner. The fact of the matter is, Murray coached his team beyond their talent to get them into the playoffs last season. This season, he couldn’t repeat the trick.
As Puck Daddy pointed out, the home record and the powerplay were certainly issues for Murray, but I’m sure he could have solved those given a few more weeks. But by suggesting there were age-related communication issues, the Blues have given the fans hope that once players mature a little bit more, the Blues will become a mid-Western Pittsburgh Penguins.
If Davis Payne doesn’t perform for the Blues, expect his firing to be accompanied by an explanation that he was too young for the job and the youthful St. Louis players didn’t take him seriously enough.
Of course, by that time the young St. Louis core will be approaching middle age.