OTTAWA -- Bryan Murray was remembered Thursday as a man whose small-town values, sarcastic wit and ability to build relationships helped him to a 35-year career as a coach and general manager in the NHL.
Murray, who worked for five NHL teams, died of colon cancer Aug. 12 at the age of 74. He was honored with a Celebration of Life at Canadian Tire Centre.
"He has left us with an appreciation of the places that sheer determination can carry you," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, "and he has left us with an admiration for his humanity and dignity in the face of a dreaded disease. The path he chose once he received his diagnosis in 2014 was to respond with grit, with class and with courage.
Video: Bryan Murray remembered in Ottawa ceremony
"The way his teams played reflected the way Bryan approached the game: earnest, honest and hardworking. They had an attitude about them reflecting the personality of their boss. Bryan was a student of our game and a teacher of life, and he never stopped teaching.
"Bryan once said, 'When I played sports, I was always the guy who had the biggest mouth.' He also had the biggest heart. The man loved the game. He loved the people in it and far and wide that affection was returned."
Murray was GM of the Detroit Red Wings (1990-94), Florida Panthers (1994-98), Anaheim Ducks (2002-04), and Ottawa Senators (2007-16), and coached the Washington Capitals (1981-90), Red Wings (1990-93), Panthers (1997-98), Ducks (2001-02) and Senators (2005-08).
Video: Commissioner Gary Bettman eulogizes Bryan Murray
Murray, a native of Shawville, Quebec, had a 620-465-23 coaching record with 131 ties in 17 NHL seasons, and won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year with the Capitals in 1983-84, guiding them to a 48-27-5 record.
Most recently, Murray served as a special adviser to Senators GM Pierre Dorion after stepping down as Ottawa GM in April 2016 to focus on his health and to spend time with his family. He was inducted into the Senators Ring of Honour on Jan. 24.
"He is someone who has touched so many lives and touched so many lives for the better," Dorion said. "The organization was a better one with Bryan in it. This loss is monumental for our hockey team for his guidance, his direction. Bryan had a calmness to him, a way to approach things we all learned from."
After his diagnosis in 2014, Murray went public with his disease and encouraged others to get tested.
"His greatest legacy might be the countless lives he saved with his campaign promoting colonoscopies," Dorion said.
Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock, who was hired by Murray for his first job coaching in the League with the Anaheim Ducks in 2002, was asked why Murray was a successful coach.
"Because he was a good person who could talk to people and he wasn't scared to tell them the truth," Babcock said. "He did it in many ways, but he cared about people and as sarcastic as he could be sometimes -- I love sarcasm, so that was right up my alley -- he treated the players right. He knew everyone had to be important. He made everyone important and he loved it, and I think when you love something, it shows."
Former Senators defenseman Chris Phillips said he witnessed Murray's sarcastic wit many times.
"His team meetings were awesome," Phillips said. "Even when he was not happy with us he could throw in that sarcastic wit that would make (former Senators center) Mike Fisher laugh out loud. One of the best ones was in Florida. He asked Fish, 'Are you ever going to score again?' When Fish stopped laughing, he said, 'No, seriously, are you?"
"Mike scored that night."