Bryan Murray may be 68 years old, but it was his work ethic and energy that won over Ottawa Senators
owner Eugene Melnyk and earned the general manager a new contract.
Murray signed a new three-year deal Friday, giving him the opportunity see through the rebuilding plan he's put into place.
"I see a little time required here to finish what we're trying to do," Murray said during a press conference to announce the move. "It's not going to be an overnight fix. There's lots of work to do, there are some changes that have to be made.
"It wasn't hard to determine that I wanted to continue and wanted to be a factor … with the club going forward."
Murray originally was hired to coach the team in June 2004, and after leading the Senators to their first Stanley Cup Final in 2007, he was promoted to GM.
It was watching Murray start to implement his rebuilding plan this spring that really impressed Melnyk. Starting in February, Murray dealt away veterans Mike Fisher
, Chris Kelly
, Jarkko Ruutu
, Chris Campoli
, Alex Kovalev
and Brian Elliott
, and in the process acquired a first-round pick and a pair of second-round selections in the 2011 Entry Draft, as well as goaltender Craig Anderson
, who Murray signed to a three-year contract extension.
"One of the key factors that went into the decision (was) the zest and the vigor that went into just rebuilding the last couple of months," said Melnyk. "It was extremely impressive."
Melnyk said he never considered dismissing Murray prior to the trade deadline, even as the team fell in the standings.
"One of the key factors that went into the decision (was) the zest and the vigor that went into just rebuilding the last couple of months. It was extremely impressive." -- Senators' owner Eugene Melnyk
"A lot of people were screaming make changes, make changes, and the stupidest thing you could have done was make a change one month before the trading deadline," he said. "You wanted someone to know what your strengths and weaknesses are, so the continuity was absolutely important and the experience is priceless."
Watching Murray in the days leading up to the deadline made Melnyk believe he had the right person on staff going forward, especially heading into the 2011 Entry Draft, which he called "a game-changer for the team."
"We have five picks in the first two rounds," said Melnyk, "(and) I can't think of anybody better to have in that spot than Bryan, knowing what to trade up to, knowing the talent we have in place."
The talent that can come in the draft, in addition to the talent already in place, has both men feeling positive about the future.
"It stimulates you when you see the way these young people have come in and played the way they have lately," said Murray. "The work ethic that's gone into it -- I just see a real bright future here. Some of the kids we've drafted that are ready to come in as early as training camp next year will make a big difference as well."
Murray said nothing had been determined regarding the future of coach Cory Clouston or other members of the coaching and front-office staff, only saying those decisions will be made soon after the season ends Saturday.
The Senators enter the season's final weekend 13th in the Eastern Conference but they've played better since the trade deadline, going 11-6-1.
"I guess I was really disappointed early in the year that we were playing the way we were playing," Murray said. "I didn't think we were one of the five worst teams in the NHL and now we're showing we're not that, unfortunately it's late. I sure didn't want to leave on a year that we had a performance like this."
It's the second time in Murray's four seasons as GM the team will miss the playoffs. The Senators finished fifth in the East last season, but were knocked out in the first round by the Pittsburgh Penguins
However, he believes the future is a bright one.
"I'm very happy and excited and want to thank Eugene for having the confidence and faith in what we're doing now is the right path," he said. "We will try to continue the growth of this hockey team. The desire here is to be a good team, a team with a chance to win at the end of every year. We have a little ways to go, we know that, but the start has been a good one. As we go forward we want to build on that."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK