Los Angeles Kings head coach Terry Murray has not been pleased with the play of forward Alexander Frolov and he let the enigmatic Russian know in no uncertain terms as he will be a healthy scratch tonight when the Kings face the Dallas Stars.
The 27-year old Frolov, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end, has one goal and four assists in eight games despite the surprisingly fast start by the Kings this season.
In an interview with the L.A. Kings' Insider, Murray was frank when discussing the decision to sit the two-time 30-goal scorer.
"I haven't been happy with Fro's game for several games," Murray told the L.A. Kings' Insider. "The game the other night is the straw that broke the camel's back, in my opinion. The turnovers, the careless play… It has to be better, and you have to come out with that high level of intensity, with smart work, hard work, and you've got to love the game. You've got to love the game in order to be a player. The talent is there, but it always is the work that brings out talent. And I need more."
When asked if he had discussed the issue with the player, Murray became even more forthright.
"There's nothing coming back," Murray told the Kings' Insider. "That's the 10th meeting along those lines, and nothing ever comes back. So, I don't know.''
Murray continued by saying this has been an ongoing concern during Frolov's entire seven-year tenure with the Kings and that he was not the first coach to be forced to deal with Frolov's apparent lack of interest.
"(I'm) not the first coach, not the first GM and not the first in line in any one of those categories or teammate," Murray told the LA Kings Insider. "It's got to get better. You've got to buy into the team. That's the only way. If we're going to change our culture… That was a big issue last year, with me coming in here, in my meetings with players at the start of the year. We're changing the culture, we're changing style, philosophy, system, and we need total buy-in. That's the only way you can become a good hockey club."
Despite the very stern message being sent, Murray stated that he still believes that Frolov can be a valuable part of the team.
"As I mentioned already, the best players have to lead the way. Someone has to be the general leading the charge. Sometimes it takes a group of those guys to lead the charge. In our case, that's what we need. Fro, when he's on his game, he's a 30-goal scorer and he's a big part of our hockey club, but it has to come with that love for the game, and being an emotional leader and a leader in the execution part of the business. It's too hard out there. It's so competitive. It's very demanding every shift for minutes, and again, our better players are the guys that set the tone for games and for practice. That's where you prepare to win games, is in the practice, and that's an area that I have to have him better in.''
Frolov will have a chance to break back into the Kings' lineup on Thursday when Los Angeles plays host to the Stars in the back half of a home-and-home.