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Murray plans to continue as Senators GM, offers coach Cameron an extension

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OTTAWA - Bryan Murray is too excited by his young team to walk away at this point.

The Ottawa Senators general manager confirmed Wednesday that he would remain in his position despite speculation he might step aside due to his ongoing battle with cancer.

"I'm keeping going. I've talked to the doctors, I've talked to my family, I talked to ownership and if my health holds up and everything I feel I can keep doing this job and it's better than sitting on the couch at home I think," Murray said.

He believes his team made big strides this season and with a few key additions, could be even better next season.

"It's easy for me to say I probably shouldn't continue on," Murray said. "I should probably take a break from this game, but you see the enthusiasm of the group, the opportunity that this group going forward has, you'd like to be part of it. I do know we need to make a couple changes and we're going to try, but there are no guarantees. We know that."

The first order of business for Murray is getting Dave Cameron to sign a contract extension.

"I have an offer right now sitting on my kitchen table," said Cameron. "I haven't opened it yet. This organization has been very fair to me so I don't anticipate any concerns.

"I don't know if in all my years I negotiated a contract. I just took what was offered because it's always been fair."

The coaching change last December helped change the team's fortunes. Cameron, hired to replace Paul MacLean, brought in a new style and new attitude that was embraced by the players, but the 58-year-old was quick to deflect praise.

"You just have to be clear about the way you want your team to play," said Cameron. "You can't be wishy-washy. You have to give the players indications. You have to sell it to them. Convince them it gives them the best chance to win. You hope they get on a roll, win some games (because) then the buy-in is a little easier, but at the end of the day as a coach, you're as good as your players. It's not rocket science. You're as good as your players."

While the Senators' core will remain intact, there are some tough decisions to be made regarding the future of veterans Chris Neil and Chris Phillips. They have been an integral part of the team's fabric for years.

"We met with Chris (Phillips) yesterday," said Murray. "He wants to make it tough on the coach game-to-game whether he can play. He knows he may not play every game if he's here."

As for Neil, Murray admitted the team doesn't have many players like him and plans to hold further discussions with the rugged winger over the summer, "and then we'll just have to decide what happens."

There will be further movement as Murray believes there are a few players who would like to seek an opportunity to get more playing time elsewhere. He'll also be kept busy with efforts to sign restricted free agents Mark Stone, Alex Chiasson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mika Zibanejad and Mike Hoffman.

The Senators used a goaltending trio of Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner and Andrew Hammond. Lehner has been sidelined with a concussion, but the team is hopeful he will be able to resume training at some point in May.

"We have two goaltenders right now signed, Andrew Hammond's unrestricted," said Murray. "We will make an offer to him and we'll see if he's interested, willing to accept what we have for him. If that happens, if he does, then obviously there'll be a change with one of the other two guys."

Notes: Murray announced defenceman Jared Cowen, who played in just one of the team's last 18 games, requires surgery to repair a sports hernia. ... Murray said there are no immediate plans for Daniel Alfredsson to join the organization, but said should the former star forward express an interest, the team would definitely be interested in talking to him.

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