Broncos name NHL veteran Murray new head coach

Veteran NHL coach Andy Murray has signed a five-year contract to coach Western Michigan, the school announced Tuesday.

He replaces Jeff Blashill, who left after one season to become an assistant coach with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings.

The hiring of Murray, who has 20 years of coaching experience in the NHL, comes as the Broncos eye a change in conferences as part of the major shakeup scheduled for 2013.

“Consistent with our stated goals of competing at the highest levels of Division I ice hockey and of winning a hockey national championship this decade, Andy’s hiring is another clear signal our university is seriously engaged in achieving this coveted pinnacle,” Western Michigan athletic director Kathy Beauregard said in a statement.

Assistant coaches Pat Ferschweiler and Rob Facca will remain under Murray, who last coached the St. Louis Blues from 2006 to 2010.

The 60-year-old Murray, who reportedly turned down the head coaching job at Rensselaer in 2006, has 10 seasons of head coaching experience in the NHL with Los Angeles and St. Louis and has also been an assistant in Philadelphia, Minnesota and Winnipeg.

Murray’s only collegiate coaching experience came at Brandon University in Canada back in 1979.

His three children all played college hockey. Brady Murray played two seasons at North Dakota, Jordy Murray played three years at Wisconsin and Sarah Murray won two national championships in four seasons at Minnesota-Duluth.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reported Monday that Murray will receive a contract similar to the $275,000-per-year deal Blashill received in April.