GM won't deal away No. 1 pick

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

Exactly what's it doing there, we're not sure, but a large lottery ball tumbler not unlike that which will be used to determine the selecting order at next spring's NHL draft has sat outside the media room at Scotiabank Place for a few days now.

Had he shuffled a little to his left and through the double doors, Bryan Murray could have been leaning on it while he addressed reporters yesterday.

"No, we're not giving up yet," said the Senators GM to a question about the game plan of ownership and management. "We've got 42 games to go, we've had a dreadful first half, we are way back in the standings, we understand all the things that are wrong here, but we're going to allow this group to play a little longer, and hopefully win some hockey games."

And so Ottawa fans should hold off on the John Tavares or Victor Hedman debate. At least until tomorrow morning.

At the risk of improving his team, Murray says he's is interested in "acquiring a younger player or two, not a veteran with a big contract."

Sources say among his targets was 24-year-old Islanders defenceman Chris Campoli, but those talks appear to be over.

"I can give up our first-round pick and get a decent player, but that's the wrong thing to do," said Murray. "It's okay for me or the coach to do that now, for the franchise it's not the right thing to do. I'm not going to do it, because of that. My job here is to make sure we're set up. We've had a week of scouting meetings to make sure we draft properly in the future, as we did this past year. I want to leave (the scouts) that opportunity.

"It's not a very good situation, if you're talking about making the playoffs. I'm worried about winning (tonight). At this stage of the year, the way we're playing, that's what we have to worry about. We're not in a very good position for a playoff spot, being realistic. I think we can win some hockey games in the near future. I'm hoping we can get some confidence back in this club and get rid of some of the frustration for all of us. Then we have to determine what direction we're going."

When Murray was asked whether he thought the team needed a new voice (i.e. coach) in the room, he wondered about the fairness of the suggestion. It would be the fourth "new voice" in a year, including his own. It appears he believes the problem is more with the recipients of the words, not the senders.

Does that mean coach Craig Hartsburg will make it to the all-star break? There are likely no guarantees on that one, either.

What about Murray's job? Asked if owner Eugene Melnyk gave him a private vote of confidence, the pride of Shawville replied: "That's something I don't have to announce publicly."

The speculation on that one afterward was pretty much split 50-50 between yes and no.

"I guess the thing that everybody talks about all the time is jobs," said Murray. "That's not my concern at all. If I'm not doing the right thing ... I've been managing one year, this club, I don't know that I should have to worry about my job. But because of the performance of the club ... the fortunate part about me, is that I've been around enough, done enough, I know the business pretty well, I know the storylines pretty well ... I can save my job by trading our first-round pick, probably, making the team a little more competitive. I would never do that to this franchise."

So what if the Senators have to rebuild? Is there much work to do? Or is all that's necessary some tinkering to bring the team back to contender status.

"You're the experts that picked this team to make the playoffs at the start of the year," said Murray. "I think we're that calibre of team."

They said it

When Hurricanes veteran Ray Whitney found out Senators W Jarkko Ruutu is eligible to return to the lineup from his suspension, he was overheard saying to Ruutu: "I'll make sure I keep my fingers out of your mouth." ... When Hartsburg was asked by the media if he is reading the local papers these days, he laughed and said: "No. My wife does. She's not happy with all of you."


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