ST. LOUIS (AP) -Andy Murray's first anniversary with the St. Louis Blues is Wednesday. It's been quite a year for both the coach and the franchise.
The Blues were last in the NHL when they fired coach Mike Kitchen and hired Andy Murray on Dec. 12, 2006. They're 43-28-10 since then, and their 16-10-1 record this season has them in second place in the Central Division.
"After I came on board, basically we tried to sell a belief system that if we played hard every night and competed, that we would have an opportunity to be successful," Murray said Monday.
"You know, losing is misery. And you can either feel good about yourself and win and work extremely hard or not put the effort in and have that losing feeling."
The Blues have 33 points and were tied for sixth in the Western Conference entering Tuesday night's game against the Edmonton Oilers. St. Louis has missed the playoffs the last two years after a 25-season run and was 7-17-4 last season before Murray took over for Kitchen.
Murray said veteran players realized they "let a good man down" and are the most important element in the franchise's rebound.
"If this was an NFL schedule, we would feel all right about things," Murray said. "It's going to be a battle. Just take a look at our conference; it's so tough."
Making Murray's job easier is a more competitive roster led by free-agent pickup Paul Kariya. The franchise also added a full-time strength and conditioning coach.
"Andy has brought a system in and just a change, a change in the way people think," team president John Davidson said. "Players believe in him, the fans believe in him, and nobody works harder."
Tempering the enthusiasm just a bit, the Blues are coming off a stinker. A 9-5 loss at Colorado on Sunday night included a five-goal second period, more than the Blues had given up in any game this season. But overall, Murray has been pleased with the team's hardworking ethic and concentration on defense.
"We come to play hard every night and we know that this league is so tough and that we respect our opponents," Murray said. "We obviously didn't do a very good job in Colorado last night, but we play hard and we work hard most nights."
Murray gave the team Monday off despite the whipping the Blues absorbed in Colorado, factoring in a 3:30 a.m. arrival in St. Louis partially due to icy conditions. In reviewing the scoring chances, he said the Blues had one more than the Avalanche "if you can believe that."
"We gave up a lot fewer chances in the game than we have in a number of games that we won earlier," Murray said. "It was a matter of not getting the saves when we needed them, and having breakdowns."
Murray was hired by the Blues only nine months after he was fired by the Los Angeles Kings near the end of his seventh season. He doesn't think he's changed much.
"You conduct yourself the right way, you carry yourself the right way, you base your coaching on communication and being demanding of your players and not demeaning," Murray said. "I cannot see that I've changed a lot, because you have to coach with the personality that you have."