MANNHEIM, Germany – The last Canadian coach to come home from the IIHF World Hockey Championship with a gold medal now finds himself wearing enemy colours.
Andy Murray is working behind the scenes as a consultant for the Swiss team, helping good friend Sean Simpson?another Canadian?during his first stint as head coach at the tournament. Murray was in charge when Canada captured world championship gold in Moscow three years ago and was more than happy to answer the call for Switzerland when Simpson contacted him a few months back.
“To go help Switzerland is different than going to Sweden or Russia,” Murray said Tuesday. “We’re still a developing hockey country. If Swiss hockey continues to grow, it’s good for Canada. It’s good for the game.”
Murray also has deep ties to the country. He spent eight years there as a coach and even had Simpson playing for his Zurich Lions team in the 1980’s. On top of that, Murray’s son currently plays for Lugano in the Swiss league and his daughter will join a women’s team in the country next season.
For Simpson, it was only natural to call on the man who encouraged him to get into coaching when his playing career ended.
“He has a real connection with Switzerland and he’s doing it for nothing,” said Simpson. “He’s one of the best hockey minds I’ve ever met. … What a great thing for me to have him here.
“To have him there to talk to every day, it’s just fantastic. And what a fantastic guy he is.”
Simpson recently took the reigns of Switzerland’s hockey team after Ralph Krueger led it for 12 years. He’s been trying to draw on Murray’s vast coaching experience in the few weeks he’s had to prepare for the world championship following the end of the Swiss league season.
Murray has been staying away from the bench throughout this event?appearing briefly on the ice Tuesday to join the team picture. His contribution is largely being made away from the spotlight.
“I basically try to make sure that we try to find the best ideas every day,” said Murray, who coached Canada to three world championship golds. “I make suggestions to (the coaches) and ask them what they want and so on. I kind of help coaching the coaches.”
It’s the first work Murray has done since being fired by the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 2.
The last few months have been spent trying to make up for lost time?watching his daughter and youngest son play college hockey in the U.S. It’s something he wasn’t able to do very often while coaching the Blues.
“I love being a hockey father,” said Murray. “I realized what I’d been missing.”
He doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to get back behind the bench. In fact, Murray says he’s already declined a couple job offers.
While growing up in Manitoba, his only real coaching dream was to lead the Canadian national team?something he accomplished many times over the years. He has tremendous respect for Hockey Canada’s program.
“Coaching is all about eliminating excuses and providing reasons for success rather than failure,” said Murray. “Canada does everything to make sure there’s no excuses. They do everything to make sure you have the best possibility to be successful.
“I’m lucky that I got caught up in that.”