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Senators GM Murray inducted into Ottawa Sports HOF

by Chris Stevenson

OTTAWA -- As a teenager from the Ottawa Valley town of Shawville, west of Canada's capital and across the Ottawa River in Quebec, Bryan Murray would travel into the city to play hockey.

Murray, 15 at the time, played for the Shawville Pontiacs in a Senior A hockey league, competing against and playing with men 20 years older. They played at the Auditorium when they visited Ottawa, a building long gone.

Almost 57 years later and a few blocks away from where the Auditorium used to stand, Murray will be inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame on Friday.

"Obviously, very proud of that," said the 72-year-old Ottawa Senators general manager, who will be honored for his career in hockey, which includes 34 years in the NHL as a coach and manager.

"I'm a Valley boy from Shawville. Coming to Ottawa was a big event. We didn't come that often. We were the country bumpkins, I guess, at that point, but when we came we usually beat them in hockey."

Murray, who became a teacher after attending Macdonald College, a suburban campus of McGill University in Montreal, left Shawville to pursue coaching.

That's the way it is with small towns. You have to leave to find something big.

Murray got his first chance coaching in the NHL with the Washington Capitals in 1980-81 after stints with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.

After nine seasons in Washington, he became coach and general manager of the Detroit Red Wings in 1990, then general manager of the Florida Panthers in 1994. Murray moved on to the Anaheim Ducks, where he was coach (2001-02) and GM (2002-04).

He resigned as GM of the Ducks to return to Ottawa to coach the Senators in 2004 and brought them to the Stanley Cup Final against the Ducks, the team he built, in 2007.

In the 13 full seasons he was a coach in the NHL, his team made the Stanley Cup Playoffs 12 times.

As a general manager, he helped turn around the Red Wings, brought the expansion Panthers to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996, and had a large part in building the Ducks who won the Stanley Cup in 2007.

Murray, who became GM of the Senators after the 2006-07 season, thought three or four years coaching the Senators would be a good way to end his NHL career, but 10 years later, he's still with the team.

Murray, looking for his first Stanley Cup, has left each previous franchise in better shape.

It's been a long, circuitous route around North America, but Murray is working close to home and will get a big hometown honor.

"I was away for a long time, 25 years in the United States," Murray said. "So to be able to come back to Ottawa and over a period of 10 years to get this recognition is really outstanding.

"It's very nice for where I'm from, my family, my brother and sisters and the guys I played hockey with and against over the years."

This will be Murray's second significant recognition in the past week. Murray was honored as the United Way's community builder of the year last week. He was recognized for his decision to go public about his battle with Stage 4 colon cancer, sharing his experience to encourage others to get a check-up and a colonoscopy.

Murray will be inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame along with Charlie Henry, a longtime executive with the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League; TSN 1200 play-by-play voice Dave Schreiber; Canada national soccer team member Kristina Kiss; and the 1975 national champion University of Ottawa Gee-Gees football team.

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