Rather than suffer through another loss this spring, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk shook up his front office yesterday.
Less than two weeks after seeing his team fall in the Stanley Cup final to the Ducks, Melnyk fired GM John Muckler and promoted coach Bryan Murray to the job.
Ottawa had risked losing Murray, whose contract was set to expire at the end of the month. Murray will relinquish his coaching duties.
"He's shown what he can do as a GM," Melnyk said via telephone during a news conference yesterday at Scotiabank Place. "We just thought if there's going to be a crossroads, it's got happen now and it has to happen prior to the draft."
Murray has been the GM with the Red Wings, Panthers, and Ducks, guiding Florida to the final in 1996 and Anaheim in 2004.
Up first for the 64-year-old Murray will be to get ready for the NHL draft Friday in Columbus.
As reported first by Sun Media on Sunday, Muckler was told Friday by president Roy Mlakar he was out as GM. Murray was offered the job on Thursday and signed a three-year contract with an option.
Melnyk said the 73-year-old Muckler was offered another job in the organization but declined.
Melnyk said he felt this was the right move to make.
"For some time I've been looking at the organization in the short-term and the long-term and what we can do to build upon our foundation," said Melnyk. "We are one of the elite teams in the NHL and we've never had the success we've had this year, operationally, financially and on the ice.
"But the one thing we didn't want to do was become a one-trick pony, where we have one great year and then we starve for the next four or five years. Why now? That's difficult and I struggled for the right answer, but I clearly understand why we're doing this now: We need to put a plan in place for Bryan Murray as GM going forward."
COULD HAVE BOLTED
The Senators were concerned they were going to lose Murray if his deal expired because his relationship with Muckler had soured somewhat in the past year.
Though Murray has enjoyed coaching, he feels more comfortable as a GM.
"I felt to be fair, this time around, I'd be wise to go get another person for the coach part of it," said Murray, who has been behind Ottawa's bench for two seasons. "The benefit of having been the coach, though, is having the chance to be in the room and be around the players, you know the good and bad of each of them.
"I wanted to come back as coach. I really enjoyed it. The guys were terrific and the guys I worked with were really good. The big picture gets in play here. When you're the GM, you have the opportunity to do something long-term as well as in the immediate (future). "
Murray won't change the club's scouting staff before the draft, but there will be new faces brought in.
Murray's nephew Tim Murray, a scout with the Rangers, is expected to join the club in the role of assistant GM or director of player personnel.