On the firing line?

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

BOSTON -- With rumours swirling about the imminent firing of both coach Craig Hartsburg and GM Bryan Murray, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk called for fans to back his team.

Melnyk denied a report in Le Journal de Montreal which said the Senators were poised to announce that Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson and former Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn would be hired to replace the GM and coach.

But, in a statement last night, Melnyk failed to give his backing to the GM and coach with the Senators wrapping up a disastrous eight-game road trip tonight against the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins.

"Contrary to what is being reported (yesterday) by the media, I have made no decisions with respect to any personnel changes within the Senators organization," said Melnyk. "Winning remains our No. 1 priority and there is a collective focus by our management, our coaching staff and our players to deliver this to our fans."

Two NHL sources insisted neither Nicholson nor Quinn have been contacted by Melnyk. But, if the losing continues, league executives say "that something is going to give" in Ottawa.

Murray said he has spoken regularly with Melnyk.

"He's been good," said Murray. "He's frustrated and disappointed. He doesn't understand totally ... and none of us do. For the most part, he wants to see what we're going to do to correct it going forward. It's important for the city and all of our fans that we're taking steps to make it better."

It was business as usual for Murray yesterday. He worked the phones after arriving in Fort Lauderdale for scouting meetings. With the club sitting at No. 13 in the East, just 1-5-1 on the current road swing, Murray admitted something needs to be done because the club is "sinking fast."

"I'm obviously disappointed, shocked and everything else," said Murray.

Murray said he has heard the speculation about Hartsburg, but said the coach is doing his best to try to get the club out of its slump.

"That's the frustrating part for Craig and myself. We know he's a good coach and we know he's a good man.

MIGHT WAIVE PLAYERS

"(Hartsburg's) as frustrated as all of us. I have to say this coaching staff has worked hard and long to try to get these guys to play the right way. Obviously, there's a time for everything. It's just a matter that we're sinking fast if we don't win some hockey games pretty soon."

Murray confirmed he is considering waiving a couple of players to see if they get claimed so he can get them off the payroll. League executives say Murray has been shopping Antoine Vermette and Christoph Schubert.

Murray has been working the phones, trying to acquire a puck-moving defenceman.

"I'm trying," he said. "I can make a deal, but it's on the condition that I take a larger contract that ties is up.

"We've got some young kids that we hope are at least close to coming next year. I don't want to tie up the money to the point that we can't afford to sign our own players.

"We're going to try to do something. I don't know whether I am going to be successful."


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