Senators hire Murray as coach

Posted: Wednesday, June 09, 2004

OTTAWA (AP) Bryan Murray was hired as coach of the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, leaving as general manager of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks to run a team that was ousted in the first round of the playoffs.

Murray, who has spent 23 seasons in the NHL as a coach and general manager, replaces Jacques Martin. Martin was fired April 22 and has since been hired to coach the Florida Panthers.

''I wanted very badly to come back to coach,'' Murray said at a news conference. ''I wanted to come back to a hockey country where hockey meant something.''

Murray began his NHL coaching career in 1981 with Washington and was honored as coach of the year in 1983-84. He was also general manager of Florida from 1994-01 and Detroit from 1990-94. He became the Ducks' coach in 2001 before moving to the front office the next year.

''I think we made an excellent choice and found the right fit for this team,'' Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said.

Murray resigned his Anaheim job Tuesday and was replaced by Al Coates, who becomes the Mighty Ducks' interim general manager.

After their best season in team history in 2002-03, the Senators finished fifth in the Eastern Conference this season with a 43-23-10-6 record. They were eliminated by Toronto in the opening playoff round.

''My commitment to the fans, to this team is to bring a Stanley Cup to Ottawa,'' Melnyk said. ''I have said since the first day I bought the Senators that I will do whatever it takes to bring the Stanley Cup to Ottawa.''

Murray has appeared in 1,057 career games, sixth most in league history, and his 513 coaching victories rank seventh on the career list.

''Bryan is the coach, I believe, that we need to get us over the top,'' Melnyk said.

General manager John Muckler said he interviewed candidates the past six weeks.

''After spending some time with Bryan, I knew I had an experienced coach with energy, a passion for the game and a man with a great desire to win the Stanley Cup,'' he said.

For Murray, who was born in nearby Shawville, Quebec, this was an opportunity to return home.

''Now my family understands I am really in the NHL,'' he said. ''When I was elsewhere, it didn't seem to count quite as much.''

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