Fire still burns inside Murray

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

SUNRISE, FLA. -- Senators coach Bryan Murray celebrates his 63rd birthday today with, fittingly, a trip to Florida.

While a lot of men his age are looking for a soft, sunny spot to land, Murray is still driven to add the one career accomplishment that has eluded him so far, a Stanley Cup.

Has he mellowed?

Not much.

You only had to see him in action Friday or listen to him yesterday to know the fire is still burning brightly in the Shawville native.

He was still understandably rankled yesterday when asked about the events during and after Friday night's chippy win over the Los Angeles Kings, the effects of which the Senators will feel tonight.

Ottawa will be without defenceman Zdeno Chara tonight against the Florida Panthers as he serves a one-game suspension for instigating a fight with Kings defenceman Tim Gleason with about three minutes to go in the game.

Murray was bristling over accusations by Kings broadcaster Jim Fox he sent Chara or policeman Brian McGrattan over the boards to even scores. After the game, Murray went looking for Fox, who also said during his broadcast that Murray was "unprofessional."

Murray engaged him in an animated conversation outside the Kings' dressing room.

Point made.

"People basically suggested I sent those guys out. How dumb am I to send out Zdeno Chara to fight at the end of the game when I know there's a $10,000 fine and a game suspension?" asked Murray. "To have that implied by some people really disturbs me.

"I listened to the L.A. broadcast. All I ever ask of a reporter or broadcaster is ask some questions before you call a guy crazy or you say I sent guys after him. I've heard their guys run around and make some outrageous statements and they're never wrong. The obligation as a reporter is to go and ask Chara, 'did you get sent out by the coach?' He'd find out that wasn't the case."

The league obviously didn't feel that way despite what Murray called a "rambling" conversation with NHL vice-president of hockey operations Colin Campbell.

Murray doesn't agree with the new rule that calls for the coach to be fined in Chara's situation because a coach cannot always directly control a player's decisions.

"I suggested a coach sometimes don't have the opportunity to grab guys by the arms and pull them back," said Murray, who was hoping Chara's instigator penalty would be rescinded.

There's a precedent for it. Shane Doan of the Phoenix Coyotes was assessed an instigator penalty against Anaheim's Vitaly Vishnevsky earlier this season and had it lifted.

"The Phoenix situation was the same. For four years (Doan)'s gone after Vishnevsky," said Murray, who saw it happen as the coach and GM of the Ducks.

"We all know if there was an opportunity, that would happen. He didn't get suspended."

The Kings game was a renewal of the hostilities between Murray and Kings' coach Andy Murray, whose team plays on the edge.

Senators goaltender Dominik Hasek had his space invaded and things boiled over in the third period. Sens policeman Brian McGrattan fought with Kings agitator Sean Avery before Kings enforcer Jeff Cowan beat up Ottawa rookie Chris Kelly in an obvious mismatch.

At that point, Chara had seen enough and went after Gleason.

'DISAPPOINTED'

"I was disappointed that we wind up losing a player in a game where there were clearly people agitating more than our guys were," said Murray. "The implication was players were tapped on the shoulder ... as I said to Brian McGrattan before he went on the ice, 'don't you fight this guy.' But there were a couple of words said and then he fought him."

The Senators will have to make do without Chara tonight, but other teams in the league know there will be consequences for taking liberties with Hasek or others.

"I said this right from the beginning to (his players). If Dominik Hasek gets run or something happens to our better players, I would hope that our team is made up in the proper way to make sure that those guys feel comfortable playing the game," said Murray.

"I made that very clear, too."

The message is obviously getting through.

Happy birthday, coach.

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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