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Sabres name Tim Murray new general manager

by Joe Yerdon

BUFFALO -- The Buffalo Sabres took their time, but they've found the man they believe will help them rebuild.

The Sabres on Thursday hired former Ottawa Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray to be their general manager. In Ottawa, he worked under GM Bryan Murray, his uncle, but the opportunity to help build a team virtually from the ground up appealed to him.

"When Bryan came to me this time and said, 'They've called and asked permission, should I grant it?' it didn't take me long to say yes," Tim Murray said. "I came from a comfortable situation. I'm from the Ottawa area, my wife and kids are there. Everybody was speculating I might be the next guy there. I don't know whether I was going to be or not, but I'm sure I would've been a candidate, and when this came, [it’s like] a blank slate. [There's] money to spend when it's the right time here to be a [salary cap] team. This was just an attractive, attractive time for me to branch out on my own and put my stamp on the game of hockey."

The Sabres have nine first- and second-round picks to use in the 2014 and 2015 NHL Drafts.

"My short-term goal in next few days is to go over [draft] lists and reports with [assistant general manager] Kevin Devine because that is how you build a team," Murray said. "You build a team through doing well in the draft. Free agency puts you over the top. That's my philosophy."

Murray was the assistant GM in Ottawa for seven seasons. Most recently he was part of the decision-making process that made the move to acquire Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks in a trade. The Senators sent prospects Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a first-round pick to the Ducks to get Ryan. That kind of experience could prove handy in Buffalo.

"I think we have assets here, and when you have high picks you can use the high picks to get top-end guys, or you can trade them," Murray said. "But there are decisions to be made here and it's not a time to be sitting on the fence post or waffling. It's a time to be decisive and get at it."

The position in Buffalo opened on Nov. 13 when former GM Darcy Regier and coach Ron Rolston were fired. Pat LaFontaine was hired as president of hockey operations and searched for a new GM since then.

"He's paid his dues," LaFontaine said of Murray. "He's earned this opportunity. He knows organization from every level. He knows every facet. He's decisive. He's a team guy. He cares. He's loyal and respectful and trustworthy."

The Sabres also announced they've hired Craig Patrick to be a special assistant. Patrick had been serving with the Columbus Blue Jackets in a similar role and was general manager of the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins, where he won two Stanley Cups.

"Bringing Craig Patrick, I think, is a real special thing for him," LaFontaine said. "I said, 'Craig, why would you want to get involved still?' And he looked me right in the eye and said, 'Because I know I have two more Stanley Cups.' He said, 'I'm not done.' And when a Hall of Famer, a guy who's done what he's done, gold medal, Olympics, looks at you, he wants to help."

One decision Murray will have to make eventually is on the status of coach Ted Nolan. LaFontaine hired Nolan to replace Rolston on an interim basis and said it would be up to the new GM to decide if keeping Nolan full-time was the right move for the future.

"He's the coach of this team, I got the job last night," Murray said of Nolan. “I'm going to come in here and try to establish a relationship with Ted and his coaching staff and get to know them. He's the coach right now and whatever happens going forward will determine everything else."

Nolan's record since taking over is 8-11-3. The Sabres were 4-15-1 this season with Rolston as coach.

"If Teddy's the right guy for the job and Tim feels that way and I feel that way and as a hockey operations team, Teddy’s going to be here as the next head coach," LaFontaine said. "I think he's doing a great job."

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