by Todd Anderson
Growing up in Shawville, Que., Ottawa Senators head coach Bryan Murray never imagined he'd one day win his 600th NHL game while coaching so close to his home town. On Tuesday Murray reached that mark with a 4-3 shootout win over the Edmonton Oilers at Scotiabank Place.
"The recognition of being in the Top 5 in wins in the NHL is really something that when you're a young guy coming from a small village in the Ottawa Valley, is a nice thing to happen over your career," Murray said shortly after reaching the milestone.
Murray joins only Scotty Bowman, who has 1,244 wins; Al Arbour, 781; Dick Irvin, 692; and Pat Quinn, 657, with 600 career wins.
"It is elite company, there's no question about that," Murray says. "I respect that a great deal. It's a great compliment to the players I've had and teams I've coached."
The path to Murray's 600th win was a fitting example of how he has developed as a coach during his career, and how he has grown to earn the respect of the players who perform for him.
After allowing a last-minute goal by the Oilers that sent the game into overtime, which also didn't settle the game, Murray chose two players who once skated in Edmonton to try and win the match in the shootout, which was introduced as a tie-breaking method last season. Those former Oilers Dean McAmmond and Mike Comrie both scored to win the shootout 2-0. With one decision, Murray showcased his ability to adapt to change in the game and to choose the right personnel to get the job done.
"Obviously, he's very knowledgeable and he has a good way with the players," forward Mike Fisher says.
Adds alternate captain Wade Redden: "He's done a great job in Ottawa with us. He communicates well, he's up front and he treats the guys pretty good. Whenever he comes to the rink, he has fun himself."
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson says Murray was a strong influence in helping his team bust out of its slump earlier this season.
"I've been impressed, especially with how he's handled all the different situations there's been. He's been a great coach. His belief in us, and ability not to panic, was very calming and it rubbed off on us. We definitely needed that."
Murray says the milestone game on Tuesday was the kind of game he's most happy to win.
"That's what coaching is. That's what hockey is supposed to be. You find a way to win games when you have to find a way to win games. This is a team now that I feel real good about. They're competitive every night, they're disciplined. This is the type of game you're going to see maybe more often for the rest of the year."
On Thursday, Murray reaches another milestone when he coaches his 1,200th game in Buffalo against the Sabres.