Tough call for Senators president

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:15 AM ET

It was the phone call Roy Mlakar didn't want to make.

Late Friday, the Senators president called John Muckler and informed him owner Eugene Melnyk had decided to move coach Bryan Murray into the general manager's position.

It only made sense for Mlakar to call his lifelong friend because he felt Muckler shouldn't have to hear it from anybody else.

Though Muckler, 73, was surprised by the move, he took the news with class, declined to stay with the club in another capacity and then worked out a buyout in excess of $1.5 million US that wasn't completed until Sunday.

"It's always difficult when the situation involves someone that you've known since you were 19 years old," said Mlakar. "This has been a big challenge. We've had six GMs since I've been here, and I hope they all didn't leave because of me, but we've had a lot of success. Change is something you sometimes look at as a challenge and this came down. It's something that's part of the game."

Because Muckler and Mlakar are such good friends, there was a belief Melnyk might also remove Mlakar from the picture.

But Murray and Mlakar, who has a year left on his contract, had a long meeting Sunday and they're both focused on the task ahead.

"It's been a challenge here," said Mlakar, who watched season-ticket sales reach an all-time high after they surpassed the 12,000 mark in the playoffs. "It's been 11 great years and we've got one thing left to do (winning the Stanley Cup)."

Muckler didn't return a call last night, but in a statement expressed disappointment.

"It's a first-class organization and I'll very much miss being a part of it," said Muckler.


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