Murray rides spirit of Shawville Express

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

There could be another passenger jumping on The Shawville Express this spring.

Eighty years ago, Frank "The Shawville Express" Finnigan, whose No. 8 hangs in the rafters at Scotiabank Place, won a Stanley Cup with Ottawa and scored the last goal in franchise history before that version of the Senators moved to St. Louis.

This year, another Shawville native -- Senators coach Bryan Murray -- is trying to bring more glory to the Quebec village about 90 km west of Ottawa as the chase for the Stanley Cup continued last night with Game 4 of the Eastern final against the Buffalo Sabres.

Finnigan also played a role in bringing the Senators back to Ottawa. He was drafted by founders Bruce Firestone, Randy Sexton and Cyril Leeder as the last living member of the original team to lend his name to the modern-day bid, but Finnigan died before he could watch his banner raised on opening night, Oct. 8, 1993.

But he hasn't been forgotten.

"When I was old enough, I even dropped into his place a couple of times and watched him play ... he must have been 70 years old when he played against one of the high school teams I coached and he was a real competitive guy," Murray said before last night's game.

Murray, 63, has been to the Stanley Cup final as a GM twice, with the Florida Panthers and Anaheim Ducks, but this is the furthest he has gone as a coach. Labelled as a guy who couldn't win the big one, Murray is proving his detractors wrong this spring.

He gave up the job as Ducks GM because he wanted to come home to coach. Murray could see the Senators were left in solid shape by former coach Jacques Martin, but they needed a little extra push.

"You get knocked in this business when you don't win a Cup and rightly so. You're the coach and it's an easy story," said Murray, who has coached Washington, Detroit and Anaheim. ''I feel good about this group, as I have about a few groups. They work hard. They have character. They're blue collar to an extent ... You're proud of guys doing what you think they are capable of doing and that's my agenda all the way through.

''That's why I came back to Ottawa. I wanted a chance to coach a team that was set up to a point where they had a chance at least.''

Not that it's been an easy ride to this point. With the Senators struggling last November, fans called for the heads of Murray and GM John Muckler. Owner Eugene Melnyk reportedly gave it some thought until he put a halt to all the talk in mid-November.

"(Getting fired) was pointed out to me enough times that I realized that was a possibility," said Murray. "But that's part of what it is in this racket. If you're in pro sports, whether you're a player or a coach or a manager, whatever it may be, you're judged almost every day and the attitude changes based on performance and we know that."

Murray has never forgotten his roots and Shawville residents are proud of what he has accomplished. When Murray stopped at a local watering hole on an off-day last month, locals congratulated him for a job well done by setting up a table full of beer.

"My wife (Geri) doesn't talk to me very much," Murray said with a smile, "but everybody else talks to me a lot."

Next month, if things go well for Murray and his Senators, Shawville could really have something to talk about.


Videos

Photos