Meet Bryan Murray, the fifth head coach of the Ottawa Senators. Known for his extremely Irish name and lisp, Murray is a very passionate coach with an extremely dead-pan sense of humour. Therefore, you can tell I'm a fan already.
Murray was born in 1942 in Shawville, Quebec. It's a tiny town in the Ottawa Valley in Quebec that is dead proud about their Anglo-Saxon heritage. Meaning that they speak English there and I'm frankly not convinced it even exists.
Murray is the fifth winning-est coach in the NHL although has never won a Stanley Cup in his career. Unlike many other coaches who have played in the NHL, even for a brief period of time, Murray has never played hockey past junior. He played for his hometown Shawville Pontiacs at age 14 with men a dozen years older than him and his junior team was the Rockland Nats of the Central Junior Hockey League.
He's one of those people that earned his NHL career through hard work and starting from the bottom up. He attended McGill University where he also became the coach of their hockey team and their athletic director. Afterwards, he moved back home to Shawville, Quebec and opened up a sporting goods store and ran a local hotel. He also taught for a couple of years at the local high school and was probably going to end up being a businessman. It's like bizarro world!
Nonetheless, the Regina Pats of the WHL came calling and like any good husband should do, he asked his wife for permission first. He went on to lead the Pats to a Memorial Cup and then went on to coach the Hershey Bears of the AHL where he won coach of the year. The year after that, he made his NHL debut as the head coach of the Washington Capitals where he would be for the next eight and a half years. He won the Jack Adams Award in 1984 and brought the team to the playoffs every year he was there.
He's very good at building cup contenders although always falling short of, you know...actually WINNING the cup. He was the head coach and GM of the Detroit Red Wings in 1990 and during his four years there, the team had mixed results although they say he was the one who helped build the team that would be so successful in the late '90s. He was the GM of the Florida Panthers in 1996 and helped the very young expansion team to the Stanley Cup Finals. He also has quite the eye for talent as he gave some dude named Lindy Ruff his first coaching job as the assistant behind the Panthers' bench. That year he was also selected as the NHL Executive of the Year. In 2002 - 2004, he was the GM of the Anaheim [Mighty] Ducks and also helped them reach the Stanley Cup Finals. After that, he surprised many people by resigning from his post to take the head coaching position behind the Senators bench.
He loves the Sens. He bursts with Senators love. He even said that when he took the Panthers to the finals in '96 that he sort of wish it was with the Senators. Something about hometown pride I guess. He admits to being a small town guy and the SoCal lifestyle just wasn't for him. This article gives you a very nice impression of what type of person he is. Apparently he sucked as a hockey player but rocked pretty hard as a coach. He's not afraid of confrontation and expects a lot out of his players.
So, if Murray's so great, why have the Senators been so pitiful as of late? Well, that's anyone's guess but I think the evidence points to the fact that he's clearly a better GM than head coach. Maybe he's just getting old? I mean he WAS born in 1942...that's like math I can't even do.
I also happen to love his sense of humour. However in this instance, I don't think Antoine Vermette found it particularly funny. Who could forget during the playoffs last year when asked who would be his starting goaltender, he said with the most serious look on his face: "Dominik Hasek". The air literally drained out of the room before he finally started laughing and said it would be Ray Emery. Wishful thinking on EVERYBODY's part I guess.
I'd like him to stick around and I really want him to be able to win the cup with the Senators. He's worked so hard the past two decades and I think he deserves it. Given the combined ages of both him and our GM John Muckler...that's alot of years and what should be alot of hockey experience. I've grown a little bit concerned that he's no longer effective as a head coach...but Mucks is hitting retirement age [more like years past it] and Murray's got a great track record as a GM. Know what I'm sayin'? Right? Right?
Now for some expletives. I have no idea what's going on here, but for some reason I have the urge to go "Awww! He swore!"