ANAHEIM -- Was Bryan Murray trying to defend his players, or did he let them off the hook?
That debate was taking place yesterday at the Stanley Cup final after the Senators coach fired shots at the officials following the club's 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in Game 1 on Monday night.
Upset with the way the Ducks were allowed to hook, hold and obstruct, Murray said Tuesday he was going to instruct the Senators to do same thing in Game 2 last night at the Honda Center.
Many felt Murray was making a poor excuse for the fact the Senators didn't respond physically to the Ducks, who are going to try to run Ottawa out of the rink, if that is what it takes to bring home the Stanley Cup.
But some observers were impressed by the fact that Murray stood up for his team, just as former Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn used to during all those playoff defeats for Ottawa with coach Jacques Martin behind the bench in the Battle of Ontario.
Quinn was relentless in his attack on the officials during those playoff series. He would spend an entire news conference talking about how dirty the Senators were and missed calls and make a mockery of the referees for as long as reporters kept asking questions. That's what made Murray's comments Tuesday so reminiscent of Quinn.
Murray, 64, has long been known as a guy who is always talking to the officials, calling them to the bench to let them know what they've missed and he doesn't like it when he doesn't get satisfaction.
"I asked one of the officials (something on Monday) and he told me to go stand behind the bench," Murray said. "So, it's very hard for me to do anything other than stand behind the bench and hope that somebody recognizes that there are levels that we've been told you play at, and it is called accordingly. But I can't answer for the officials."
Will it work? Well, that won't be decided until the end of the series, but you can bet the people at the NHL's head office took note of Murray's comments. They are probably not happy, but the Ducks might be getting a little more attention the longer the final lasts.
DUCKS VP TOPS LIST
Anaheim's vice-president of hockey operations, Bob Murray, could be returning to a role as GM at the end of the Cup final.
The Columbus Dispatch reported yesterday that Murray, 52, a former GM of the Chicago Blackhawks, is the leading candidate to take the top job with the Blue Jackets. Murray is one of four candidates for the job and is expected to have a second interview with owner John H. McConnell today in Columbus before continuing on to Ottawa.
While Anaheim president/GM Brian Burke appreciates having Murray on his staff, the Ducks won't stand in his way if he wants a better opportunity and Murray already was passed up in favour of Don Maloney for the job with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Former Rangers GM Neil Smith is also considered a top candidate along with interim GM Jim Clark.
President/GM Doug MacLean was fired by the Jackets at the end of the season and the club wants someone who will be able to work with coach Ken Hitchcock. Insiders say Murray and Hitchcock have a strong relationship
HAWKS PONDER PICK
Six top prospects for the NHL draft -- Kyle Turris (Burnaby, BCHL), Patrick Kane (London, OHL), James van Riemsdyk (USDP), Keaton Ellerby (Kamloops, WHL), Karl Alzner (Calgary, WHL) and Sam Gagner (London, OHL) -- were on hand for a luncheon here with the media yesterday.
Many believe the Blackhawks are going to use the first pick on June 22 in Columbus to select Kane, a 5-foot-9 winger. But, it's believed Hawks GM Dale Tallon is listening to offers for the pick because his club needs immediate help. If the Hawks hang on to the pick, the Flyers are leaning towards Turris.
Gagner, the son of former NHLer Dave Gagner, said he grew up a Sabres fan, but wouldn't mind being picked by the team just down the road from London.
"I'd love to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs," said Gagner. "I'm from the area and they are close by."