A Lesson in Business Management – Another Perspective on Murray’s Dismissal

Terry Murray

Another post from a contributor we’d like to see more from, now going by the name CleverRoyalPun:

The Terry Murray firing has a lot of people’s emotions running high, with the greatest amount seething from Dean Lombardi.

I know all the super fans of the Los Angeles Kings and are all invested emotionally in the success of the team, but it’s also important to look at this situation as it applies to the ‘real world’.

Running a sports team is a business. It is structured just like most firms and corporations: there is a staff, management, and ownership. While fans may feel invested, they are actually consumers. Those truly invested are, well, the people that pony up to pay for the capital of the company. They expect their investment to pay off.

Looking at the Kings, the largest capital investment is human capital, i.e. the team. The players are the (very well paid) staff. They are the company workhorses. They sacrifice their mind and their body for the sake of our entertainment. We gladly pay to see them, because they bring us joy (sometimes pain). We consume hockey; we gain happiness. We are satisfied customers- until the product disappoints.

At the end of the day, the staff are just slaves to the man and at the whim of the desires of management. They have some control over the path the team takes- the human ‘capital’ can just keep their heads down and try produce the wins that the consumers are looking for. They can workout hard in the offseason and train their asses off to improve their individual performance. But the success of a hockey team does not lie in the individual player, it lies in the synergy of a team. And that, that is where the coach comes to the forefront of importance.

Middle management is a literal shit-hole.

They are charged with managing egos while managing the expectations of their superiors that are motivated by keeping the consumers happy (and spending) with a better product.

It’s not easy, but that is the job. It’s no different at any other company. The failure of those being managed falls on the manager. It’s his job to figure it out, and make the team work. If he cannot, then the fit is not right and separation is inevitable.

If the manager was dealt a bad hand, that is another story. Now, I understand that if Terry Murray is given a team of overweight World of Warcraft enthusiasts, he cannot make a Stanley Cup winning hockey team. He wouldn’t even be able to get them out of their awesome gamer chairs. So if the roster is plagued with sub-par talent, no leadership, and just overall terrible hockey players, the job of a manager is impossible. But if that were the case, where would the blame lie for the lack of vision? Upper management.

So if Lombardi has done his job and, as we saw today, accepted no responsibility for the failings of the Kings, then he has chosen a talented enough group of players. Why aren’t they gelling together? Could it be that the person responsible for managing each players strengths and weaknesses to create the best team possible failed? I have think so.

Today’s conference call was chock-full of violins playing for the tragic “relief” of Murray’s duties. There were more histrionics in that call than are found in a group of synchronized ovulating females. Lombardi was apparently overwhelmed with emotion, saying that “words cannot describe how hard this was” to do. But that ultimately, Murray had to pay the price for the players shortcomings.

Yes, at the end of the day, the players did not play up to expectation. They are not absolved of all responsibility. If a business fails, sure, it could be the fault of the staff for not producing or going above and beyond for the company. But that is why the corporate structure has management. The management is charged with creating an at least satisfactory if not superb product.

The recent failings of the Kings lie with all parties: Upper management, middle management, and the staff. But to lambaste the staff in an open forum is defensive and childlike. It is unprofessional and weak. It’s a diversion from the true problem.

We as Kings fans have been hit over the head with the “vision” of Lombardi…a vision that does not seem to employ rhyme or reason. Has it been a successful one? Well, if the realignment had taken place last year, the Kings wouldn’t have made the playoffs. Has the Kings success been earned, or is it because of the failings of other teams?

If I was the owner of this corporation, I would take a hard look at the guy laying the blame and wonder if he can’t face the facts and accept responsibility for the team’s current lull, and regardless of who we place in the head coach position, do we want this guy providing oversight and vision to him?

Lombardi’s vision could come to fruition, he just needs to come to terms with the fact that the guy that he thought would show it to us is not the one. That doesn’t mean his hand picked staff is to blame, but if they are, he shares a large chunk of that blame.

One Response to “A Lesson in Business Management – Another Perspective on Murray’s Dismissal”
  1. “He wouldn’t even be able to get them out of their awesome gamer chairs.”


    Great post.

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