Yesterday Bryan Murray announced, in an interview with CBC, that next season would be his last as the General Manager of the Ottawa Senators. As weird as this is to even think about, it didn't come as much of a shock. When Murray signed a new contract in January 2014, this was the timeline he and the team had in mind. Given his recent health struggles, it was somewhat of a relief to see that his own personal timeline hadn't changed.
In light of this news, I thought I would write Five Thoughts with Bryan Murray in mind. Here are some of my personal Bryan Murray highlights (from his time in Ottawa, obviously):
1) Brawl With Buffalo in 2007
Everyone remembers the line brawl between the Senators and Sabres in February of 2007. While I'm not condoning fighting in hockey, it's what happened on the bench that caught my attention. Apparently, tensions were not just high on the ice, as Lindy Ruff and Bryan Murray exchanged some pleasantries between benches as well.
For as long as I live, I will never not be entertained by Murray and Ruff yelling at each other. It is by far one of my favourite memories of Bryan Murray as a coach. We know him as being reserved and professional, which he is, but he has passion for this game and this team, which he showed that night against Buffalo.
Oh to be the broadcaster in between those benches!
2) 2006-07 Season
The brawl in Buffalo wasn't the only highlight of the Senators' 2006-07 season. When we think of that season, we often think of the Stanley Cup run right away. But a lot of people don't remember how far away the team was from the playoffs in January.
As of January, the Sens were out of a playoff spot and facing some serious organizational and roster changes. It all came down to one game against the Buffalo Sabres. It may have all been speculation, but rumour had it if the Sens lost that game, coach Bryan Murray would be fired and captain Daniel Alfredsson would be traded. Gasp!
The Sens won that game, and turned their season around. We all know how the rest of the story goes. By the off-season, Bryan Murray would move up to head office and take on the role of General Manager. It wasn't just a defining season for the team, but for Murray specifically. This season got him to where he is with the team today.
3) Watching Sens Games
If you've ever watched an Ottawa Senators game on television, you've probably seen some clips of Bryan Murray's in-game reactions. Simply stated: They are awesome!
Bryan Murray channels his inner Sens fan, and perfectly captures what it's like for any of us to watch these games at home. He's animated, he's over the top and he's hilarious. I would be lying if I said I didn't look like this while watching Sens games.
4) Opening Up About Cancer
Last summer, we learned that Bryan Murray was battling cancer. We didn't know what kind, or how serious it was, just that he was undergoing treatment. Then in the fall, we learned more. In an interview with TSN, Murray shared the news that his cancer was terminal and there was no solution at this time. He admitted that a simple colonoscopy could have changed his diagnosis, and urged others to get examined and prevent a similar fate.
This stands out to me as one of the finest moments in Murray's career. Despite his own adversity, he spoke out in hopes that others would get checked. In sharing his story, he encouraged a number of people to make appointments with their doctor. If he did nothing else in his hockey career, that would be enough to make his mark both in the hockey and health-care communities.
Hockey fans know how stale player, coach and GM interviews can be, except when they involve Bryan Murray. While most stick to the standard, predetermined answers, Murray remains honest and open during media interviews. He speaks candidly (at times, too candidly) and respectfully to the media, and they show him respect in return.
Some may not like it, but I think it's refreshing to see someone share their true thoughts and hold very little back during interviews. I've always enjoyed his interviews, and I look forward to more over the next season.
What are some of your Bryan Murray highlights?