Driving from his home in Maine to South Jersey earlier this week, Terry Murray noted a strange coincidence involving the NHL's latest labor dispute.
"Three times there's been a lockout - and all three times I've been with the Flyers when it happened," said Murray, who is getting ready to start his first year as head coach of Philadelphia's top minor-league affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms.
This lockout will benefit Murray and all the AHL teams, because they will have an influx of NHL talent.
"It is exciting to get some top players from the NHL to come down and play," Murray said. "I think it's going to be great for the league."
Murray, 62, is back for his fifth stint with the Flyers - two as a player, three as a coach. The Phantoms will report to training camp Friday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees for physicals and some on- and off-ice testing.
The camp, which will feature several players who figure to play key roles with the Flyers if the NHL season ever gets under way, starts Saturday at 9:15 a.m. in Voorhees and is open to the public for free.
Sean Couturier, one of the NHL's best rookies last season, and the blossoming Brayden Schenn - who played briefly in Los Angeles when Murray coached there - are among the Flyers who have two-way contracts and are allowed to play for the Phantoms, albeit at a salary lower than what they would earn in the NHL.
The camp will include Eric Wellwood, Zac Rinaldo, Erik Gustaffson, and Brandon Manning.
"It's a wonderful chance for these players to continue to grow their game while their [Flyers] teammates on the sideline are waiting for something to break," said Murray, whose Phantoms will face Albany, the New Jersey Devils' affiliate, at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Voorhees.
The Flyers have four players - Wayne Simmonds, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jake Voracek, and Ruslan Fedotenko - who are playing in Europe. A handful of others are thinking about playing overseas.
The Flyers-turned-Phantoms will not have to travel as far to keep their skills sharp while the NHL and the players' union try to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement before the scheduled openers Oct. 11.
Murray has been a head coach with four NHL teams and has a .557 career points percentage. He was fired by the Kings on Dec. 12 and replaced by Darryl Sutter, who directed Los Angeles to the first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
Murray has coached more NHL games (1,012) than any other coach in AHL history. He is coaching in the AHL for the first time since early in 1990, when he directed the Baltimore Skipjacks.
During his career, Murray has been a head coach with Washington (1989-1994), the Flyers (1994-97), Florida (1998-2001), and Los Angeles (2008-2011).
"It's going to be fun to play for him. I've heard good things about him," Gustafsson said. "He's been around for a while and he's coached a lot of teams. I'm pretty excited to get the season going, and he's a big part of that."
Murray has been a player, coach, assistant coach, scout, and now minor-league coach for the Flyers.
Even though he was fired by the Kings last December, Murray got a call this summer from the team's owner, Phil Anschutz, who told him that he would receive a Stanley Cup ring.
Murray called it "a very nice gesture" by the Kings.