Murray embraces trip to Round 3

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:16 AM ET

For the first time in his 16 years as an NHL coach, Bryan Murray wasn't dreading phone calls at the conclusion of a second round.

Instead of the "you-gave-it-your-best-shot" or "better-luck-next-time" calls, the Senators coach was receiving hearty congratulations from old friends in Shawville and some requests.

As in: "Can you score me some tickets to Round 3?"

Yes, Round 3 ... the Eastern Conference final.

Murray is finally going to coach in a third-round playoff series.

This is what made giving up his post as GM of the Ducks in 2004 worthwhile: To come home and get a chance to win an NHL title behind the bench. Now, he's as close as he's ever been as a coach.

'SENSE OF PRIDE'

And Murray, 64, was soaking it all in yesterday, admitting he got a kick out of the messages from people looking for tickets.

"This is exactly what I came home for: Friends calling me early in the morning to see if they can get tickets to the game," Murray said with a big smile. "Really, that's exactly why I came home. I wanted to be in a market like Ottawa where it really matters and it's a sense of pride for the community. Not only the city of Ottawa, but the whole area."

Murray, who has also coached some good teams in Washington, Detroit and Florida, wasn't willing to say this is his best coaching job.

"(This is the best job I've done) ... in Ottawa," said Murray. "You've heard my story, but I've had teams that have played hard and disciplined. A young man who just died not long ago -- Gaetan Duchesne -- when I coached him in Washington, we had a couple of years there where we were a phenomenal defensive team.

"We didn't get as many as stops as we did so far from (Senators goalie Ray Emery in these playoffs) and we didn't have as easy a time scoring goals as we have. I've had several real good teams.

"Detroit was just on the verge of winning a Stanley Cup when I left. But I've learned a lot about coaching. Being in management and then coaching has helped me a great deal. I've learned to allow my assistants to do more than I was in the beginning."

Murray has been to the Stanley Cup final twice as a GM: Once with the Panthers in 1996 and in 2003 with the Ducks.

PROUD OF SENATORS

He didn't want the players to start preparations for the Sabres without letting them know he was proud of the way they bounced back from a difficult start to the season.

"I've been very proud of my coaching career. The teams I've had that have gotten over 100 points -- especially with the type of team we had at the start of the year that wasn't very good and we've become a front-runner in the division," said Murray.

"To get past the second round is a real sense of accomplishment. I said to the players (yesterday) they should be real proud of themselves. They should be proud that they worked this hard and sacrificed as much as they have and now have a chance to be in the final four to take a chance at something meaningful."

Murray said he takes great pride out of the way the club has performed this year.

"That's why you coach: You like to teach," said Murray. "The rewards are watching guys follow the plan and players you hope you helped on the ice, but also off the ice as well.

"I take a great deal of pride because my whole life has been teaching and being involved with young people.

"To see it happen, and it started to happen part way through the year, it's a great sense of accomplishment. When you have a career, you want to be regarded as a guy who kind of helps somebody in one way or another."


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