Senators fire Muckler, promote Murray
OTTAWA ” Less than two weeks after losing in the Stanley Cup final, the Ottawa Senators fired general manager John Muckler and promoted coach Bryan Murray to replace him Monday.
Murray’s coaching contract was set to expire June 30 and owner Eugene Melnyk said the timing was right for a move.
“He has shown what he can do as a general manager,” Melnyk said. “We just thought if there’s going to be a crossroads it’s got to happen now and it has to happen prior to the draft.”
Murray was the general manager of the Anaheim Ducks from 2002-04 and was also the executive of the year in 1996 when he was GM of the Florida Panthers.
“The assistant GM left last year and there was no successor that was obvious other than Bryan,” Melnyk said. “It just happened to be the end of his coaching contract.”
The NHL draft is Friday and Saturday.
The 73-year-old Muckler was offered another job in the organization, but declined. Muckler, a five-time Stanley Cup winner with the Edmonton Oilers, joined the Senators in 2002.
The Senators were 48-25-9 in the regular season, and advanced to the Stanley Cup final, shaking off the tag of postseason underachievers. But they seemed to run out of steam in the final, losing to the Anaheim Ducks in five games.
Melnyk said he’s looking to the future.
“You have to think in the long-term,” he said. “The one thing we didn’t want was to become a one-trick pony where we have one great year and then we starve for the next four or five.”
Murray said the team will begin searching for a new coach in the next few weeks.
“I hope I can, number one, bring them to the next level, which is winning a Stanley Cup and help continue to make this an ongoing, continually good franchise,” Murray said.
While he said he’ll miss his role behind the bench, Murray is looking forward to having a hand in molding the team.
“I have to say I really enjoyed coaching, being around the players on a daily basis, working with the coaches that we had on staff, and it’s hard to give that up,” Murray said. “But it’s certainly a different opportunity to make the Senators a top-notch organization … and I think that being in the role of the general manager, we have that opportunity to make it happen.”
In addition to finding a new coach, Murray will have plenty of player decisions to make.
At the top of the list is goaltender Ray Emery, who was solid for most of the playoffs and is a restricted free agent with the right for arbitration.
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