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Murray knew it was time to 'pull the plug'

Senators executive hands general manager reigns to assistant Dorion, stays on as adviser

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

OTTAWA -- Bryan Murray's 35-year run as a coach or general manager in the NHL ended Sunday when he stepped down as Ottawa Senators GM and handed the job to assistant Pierre Dorion.

Murray, 73, will continue as an adviser to Dorion. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer two years ago. The desire to spend more time with his family and his health were the reasons he decided to step down.

Murray said he knows how he would like his career to be remembered.

"Well, I'd like to think I had respect. I treated people fairly," he said. "I communicated well. I love the game. I put a lot into the game. In turn, I think I gave back a lot of respect. I had some great, great players, many Hall of Famers, many unbelievable people I've worked with. I hope I'm remembered as a pretty good hockey guy who was a decent person."

Murray is 14th in the League in games coached (1,239) and 11th in wins (620). He coached the Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers and Senators.

In addition to the Senators, Murray was general manager of the Red Wings, Panthers and Anaheim Ducks. The Panthers (1996) and Ducks (2003), advanced to the Stanley Cup Final.

Murray was hired as the Senators' fifth coach on June 8, 2004. He went 107-55-20 and guided them to their only Stanley Cup Final in 2007, losing to the Ducks in five games. He was named Senators general manager in the summer of 2007.

In his nine seasons as GM, the Senators made the Stanley Cup Playoffs five times, advancing to the second round in 2013.

Murray said he would like to be stepping down in better circumstances. The Senators missed the playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons.

"Leaving after a disappointing year, that's maybe the hardest part," he said. "You always want to try and leave on the up and that wasn't to be this year, but I really feel good about the talent level that is on the ice in the future.

"I was adamant that when I stepped aside to let someone else take over, that we all feel good about the future here. I think it's a very bright future. I think we will be competitive for years to come."

Murray said he made the decision to step down Wednesday after consulting with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk. Murray's contract as executive vice president, general manager and president of hockey operations expires at the end of this season.

"I guess I've been struggling with it for the last month in particular," Murray said. "I thought about it, I met with Eugene. We had a long discussion about where we're going, what we're doing, and I just felt at the time and I suggested ahead of time, in all likelihood it would be the right time.

"I think having Pierre in position to do to the job, and take it over and be a strong general manager was important, obviously. There really wasn't any other consideration. Knowing that and how I feel and how much time I've taken away from my family … tolerant is an underused word, but putting up with me wanting to be the young man still in hockey, I just felt that after much discussion it was time to pull the plug."

Dorion said Murray was more than his boss; he served as a father figure. Dorion lost his father, Pierre Dorion Sr. (formerly the chief scout for the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau and the Toronto Maple Leafs) to a heart attack in 1994.

"In my eyes, my father was the greatest human being I ever met," Dorion said. "He passed away at a young age. Having Bryan Murray in my life has filled a personal need that nobody outside of my Dad could.

"To me, Bryan is the second greatest man I've ever known. In the past nine years working together, whether it was many lunches, formal or informal, and the many conversations, it was always about doing the right thing. Working nine years with Bryan has been one of the greatest things in my life, especially in the last seven years when I've worked with him on an everyday basis."

Said Melnyk in a statement: "Bryan Murray is a legend of the game and I know his portrait will one day find itself in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Words cannot express my thanks to Bryan and the tremendous support of his wife Geri and their two daughters Heide and Brittany. Bryan's leadership and grace on and off the ice has always been exceptional, and I am very happy that Bryan will continue to be a senior member of our hockey operations."

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