The latest buzzword.

Earlier this week I wrote on the Kings’ lack of a killer instinct. After last night’s loss to the Stars, Terry Murray said the team lacked desperation, a thought Brown parroted back to the media in broken record fashion.

BROWN: “We have to be more desperate right now. We have to be more desperate the rest of the year. We aren’t playing with enough intensity or enough desperation. We are a good team and now we are not playing like one. We need more desperation and more intensity, and that starts with individuals. We can’t do it alone…you have to get yourself ready as a player on this team. Right now, we don’t have enough guys having that desperation that we need. Look around us. I think we have what it takes in this room regardless (of) who is in or out of the lineup. It’s up to the guys in here. This is our team.”

It may seem easy to say this is good, that the team recognizes the problem, a lack of killer instinct, a term even Hammond used in his post game poll. But… Brown didn’t say killer instinct. Brown and Murray said desperation.

Desperation is something that those with killer instinct smell in others and devour.

A few games ago, effort and intensity was not the problem. No one looked at this team and thought they weren’t trying or weren’t playing hard. Apparently this is no longer the case. Suddenly the team’s problem is intensity, effort and being ready to play. This is according the team’s captain.

How quickly we forget that the problems were no different a week ago when everyone on the team was busting their asses and still coming up short.

Desperation is a loser word.

Desperate teams are, at best, tough to play against. Remember that fun saying? Tough to play against. Something the winner never needs to utter.

To approach the game from a standpoint of focusing on increasing desperation is to admit that one has already screwed up. To say to the team “you need to be more desperate” is one step above saying “you aren’t good enough, so you have to try twice as hard.”. It’s like Brown and Murray are the teachers of that poor little student who just keeps getting bad grades. “Sorry Jimmy, but you need to study twice as hard as everyone else because you aren’t as smart as they are.”

What a demoralizing message to send. One they aren’t even aware they are sending. Subtleties in language are very real and very important. Words carry connotations that when misused, defy the purpose of their being said at all. Desperation is supposed to be a motivator but for me it is a non-starter, an admission of defeat before success has been attempted.

What should the buzzword be instead? Well, killer instinct works. But I have a better one.


The Kings need to be ferocious, to play with the sense that when an opportunity comes to score, to punish the other team, to take a lead or strike back when a lead has been taken from you, that instinct takes over and determination wins the day. Not desperation. Playing with desperation leads to mistakes. Playing with desperation allows fear of failure to supersede ideals of victory. Playing with ferocity is a recyclable source of confidence. If Murray is in the locker room telling these guys to be more desperate, then Murray doesn’t understand how people react to language. Then again he didn’t understand that it was demoralizing to tell his players in Philly that they choked, so why should we expect a different understanding of the human psyche now?

Turning this ship around does not start with defining the team as a wounded animal. It starts with brazen confidence and trust in one’s own ability. If doubt has crept in then positive reinforcement and a rededication to practice are the panacea. If the team is bleeding, put a bandaid on it and make the other guy bleed instead. Don’t lick your wounds and frantically cling for dear life. You will get eaten. Other teams will smell that desperation, they will prey on it and they will exploit it.

So Terry, next time your team loses a game by one goal, don’t go into the locker room and tell them they have to be desperate. Don’t acknowledge that a one goal deficit is a such a daunting discrepancy to overcome that they need to embody a term used only when one has run out of options. Tell them that it’s just one goal, one measly little goal. They know how to score, you know they can score, we all believe they will score and to go out there and play with ferocity.