The finality of the decision to buy out Glen Murray was not lost on Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli.
During a mid-afternoon teleconference on Saturday, the B’s boss spoke candidly about the difficult choice he and the Black & Gold needed to make concerning the veteran skater’s future.
“We basically had the final step today to complete his buyout and as of today he an unrestricted free agent, free to negotiate with any other team in the league,” said Chiarelli, who immediately added, “I just want to reiterate, (Murray is) a good organization guy.
“He served us very well.”
Murray did serve the Bruins (and Kings and Penguins), very well.
In his 16-season NHL career, Murray played 1,009 regular season games while dressing for three clubs. Overall, he scored 337 goals, added 314 assists and earned a career +/- of 14.
During two stints with Boston, Murray played 570 games and scored 209 goals and 180 assists.
“There comes a time in a system when you have to make decisions based on cap flexibility versus the state of the player, and this is one of those decisions,” explained Chirarelli. “A hard decision, but one we had to make.”
During his most recent stint in Boston (2001-2008), Murray posted 180 goals and 160 assists for 240 points in 422 games.
Statistically, his best season with the Bruins came in 2002-2003, when he amassed 92 points on 44 goals and 48 assists while also adding a career best 12 power play goals and finishing second on the team in scoring.
He was selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game in both 2003 and 2004.
Last season, however, Murray missed 19 games due to injury, earned a 17-13-30 regular season line, and did not figure in any playoff scoring during the playoff series against Montreal.
“I know he was squeezing the stick, based on my observation,” said the B’s GM. “He didn’t use the release that I’m used to seeing.
“I know he had discussions with Cam (Neely) and with Claude (Julien) about that, with Cam being a goal-scorer and (knowing) how you have to work your way through these things.
“I’ve seen goal-scorers go through those slumps, and Muzz went through it,” he said.
Despite those on-ice offensive struggles, Murray remained an important part of the B's.
“He was tremendous in the room, and it was important to keep him in the line-up,” said Chiarelli. “He was one of our captains and whenever we had to talk to a leadership group he was obviously part of that group.
“(This decision reflects) a cold, harsh reality of the salary cap system,” said the GM.
Murray’s first stay with Boston lasted four seasons (1991-1995).
After being drafted 18 overall by the Bruins in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, his first two campaigns only resulted in 32 games played. But in his third season Murray saw action in 81 contests, and notched 18 goals (four of them game winners) and 13 assists.
“You have to have flexibility in there,” concluded a resolute Chriarelli. “This is one of the tools general managers can use to get that flexibility.
“In talking to Muzz, I’m sure couldn’t give him comfort in anything I said, because it’s very bleak to cut ties the way we did, but that’s the reality of it.”