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Murray brothers have rare coaching distinction

by Evan Weiner
Hockey has always featured brother combinations, ranging from the Cook brothers with the New York Rangers in the 1920s to the Howe brothers, Vic and Gordie, to the Richards, Maurice (the Rocket), Henri (the Pocket Rocket) and Claude (the Vest Pocket Rocket) to Phil and Tony Esposito.

But through all the various family combinations that have gone through the NHL or have some connection to the NHL, only a few sets of brothers have coached an NHL game against each other.
Bryan and Terry Murray first opposed one another as coaches during the 1990-91 season. Bryan was coaching Detroit and Terry was behind the Washington bench. What made this an interesting contest was the fact that Terry replaced his brother as Caps coach a little more than halfway into the 1989-90 season.
It turned out that Caps General Manager David Poile made the right call. Terry Murray coached the Caps to the conference finals, where his team lost to the Boston Bruins.
The schedule maker didn't wait long in setting up the Washington-Detroit contest; it was the second game for the Caps and Red Wings.
"Obviously it is genetics," said Bryan Murray about the rather large list of siblings that have played or are presently in the NHL. "The Sutter brothers, the Hull brothers. They grew up playing the game and having the physical attributes that are required to play. They came from the same location pretty much as far as the small town and they are very competitive.
"I think the same thing (the Murray brothers becoming coaches). Terry had a great interest at the end of his playing career in going into coaching. I think he is a good coach and the opportunities were there. I had gone through to be a teacher and then a coach.
"Terry was a copycat."
Bryan Murray must have thought Terry was a pretty good coach. He has hired him twice. The Caps claimed Terry Murray on waivers from Philadelphia at the start of the 1981-82 season, Bryan Murray's first year in Washington. But bloodlines only get a coach or player so far.
"He was in Washington when I got the job (in 1981) but I hired him as an assistant coach," said Murray, who never thought of hiring his brother as an act of nepotism.  "Well, I have heard that a few times. I hired him as a head coach when I was a general manager (Florida Panthers in 1998), but I only believe you hire people that are good. It doesn't matter whether they are brothers.
"He is a very good coach and was a big help when I was in Washington."
Murray brought Terry behind the Caps' bench in 1982 and they worked together until 1998 when the younger Murray left to take the reins of the Caps' AHL Baltimore Skipjacks affiliate for the 1988-89 season.
There have not been many brother versus brother coaching matches in sports, but when there are those dates on a schedule, it becomes a problem for the family. Can you stay neutral or do you root for your favorite family member?
In 1994 when Don Shula was coaching the NFL's Miami Dolphins, he had a problem. His Dolphins took on the Cincinnati Bengals, who were coached by his son, Dave. The Shula children were openly rooting for Dave to beat his dad. Don Shula's team defeated Dave Shula's Bengals 23-7. In 1995, the father again beat the son. Today Dave Shula works side by side with his father in the restaurant business.
"I think they all cheered for me," laughed Murray about his first game against his brother. "I think they respect what we do, I don't know if they pull for one more than the other. I think it was just a matter of hoping we got through the game and survive it. I think our parents were proud at that time we were there. I think anytime you achieve a level, obviously the National Hockey League is the highest level, I think people respect that and obvious a family takes a great pride in it."

"Obviously it is genetics. The Sutter brothers, the Hull brothers. They grew up playing the game and having the physical attributes that are required to play. They came from the same location pretty much as far as the small town and they are very competitive. I think the same thing (the Murray brothers becoming coaches)." -- Bryan Murray

The Murray situation was a bit strange to say the least. Bryan Murray coached junior hockey in Regina for a year in 1979-80 and then took the job as a minor-league coach in Hershey in 1980-81. He was hired by the Caps in 1981-82, just 14 games into the season. Terry replaced him 46 games into the 1989-90 season.
There was no strain on the brothers' relationship even though the younger brother replaced the older brother behind the Caps bench.
Bryan went on to coach the Red Wings and, to show there were no hard feelings against his brother, there was a picture taken before the game. Bryan was probably a bit more upset that his old team, the Caps beat his new team, the Red Wings, 6-4.
Bryan Murray's Ducks got to the 2003 Stanley Cup Final and lost to the New Jersey Devils. Following that series, he resigned as Ducks GM and went home to Ottawa to serve as coach and eventually GM of the Senators. Terry became the Los Angeles Kings coach in August 2008.
The brothers still talk a lot and share a unique NHL history. The Murray family can root for both the Senators and Kings and not worry much about the brother against brother faceoff as the Senators play in the East and the Kings in the West and the Murray against Murray battles are rare occurrences.

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