Asked how he felt to be on the verge of winning his 600th career game, Bryan Murray didn't miss a beat.
"Old," the Senators coach said with a big grin yesterday.
Murray, 64, might not be young any more, but he has the chance to achieve something special tonight with an Ottawa victory over the Oilers at Scotiabank Place.
The Shawville native is set to become only the fifth coach in NHL history to win 600 games. The others are Scotty Bowman (1,244), Al Arbour (781), Dick Irvin (692) and Pat Quinn (657).
"Very definitely, it would be nice. I feel it's important for the team to win against a team like Edmonton," said Murray, trying to push the milestone to the background. "You just look at the standings and that's what is most important for me right now. You win and you don't get much space. You can't make many mistakes in this game. What I'm looking at is: 'Let's win the hockey game and we'll worry about the other stuff later.' "
A ONE-YEAR THING
Not bad for a guy who decided in 1979 to coach the WHL's Regina Pats after a successful stint with the CJHL's Pembroke Lumber Kings. His NHL career has included three postings as a GM (with trips to two finals), along with coaching jobs in Washington, Detroit, Florida and Ottawa.
Murray recalled telling his wife, Geri, that when he went out to Regina, it was only going to be for one year.
"I wanted to try it because I had great luck in college and high school and Junior 'A.' I wanted to try full-time coaching for one year and I would be satisfied," said Murray, who won his first NHL game on Nov. 14, 1981 -- a 4-0 Capitals win over Hartford. "Twenty-six years later, she's still wondering why I won't go on vacation with her.
"But it means a lot over your life to have the opportunity to do what you love to do. That's to be around good hockey players, elite people that want to get better. I've had a lot of fun doing this, but it's been something very fortunate for me. Getting to the point where you win 600 games means over the years you've coached some pretty good hockey teams."
ITCHING FOR CUP WIN
Murray is also the longest-serving coach in the NHL to not a win a Cup. He wants one badly and was asked if he felt like quarterback Peyton Manning, who didn't win until the Colts captured the Super Bowl earlier this month.
"Everybody wants that to happen (win a title). I'd like to be like Peyton Manning. He gets a lot of endorsements and a lot of money," said Murray.
"Most every team I've coached, except last year's team in Ottawa, was never supposed to win or selected to be a contender for the Stanley Cup.
"So, it's not like we fell short of goals in Washington. We had a couple of great teams that lost to the Stanley Cup-champion Isles. In Detroit, we were getting there, but we were couple of years away from getting it.
"Last year was the great chance and the unfortunate part was Dominik (Hasek) getting hurt.
"Part of the reason I came back to coach in Ottawa was to have a chance (to win the Cup). That's why I'm looking forward to the playoffs."