Sunday, June 06, 2010

Is it time for Bryan Murray to stop talking?

I don't think it is a stretch to say that Bryan Murray was handed the keys to the car three years ago and given a blank cheque to do what he felt necessary to fix the program. I also don't think it is a stretch to say that he has done quite well in many areas of the organization. The Binghamton Senators actually resemble a farm system with a handful of prospects, something that the Murrays have done from scratch (with the scouts). The big club also found a decent coach, albeit falling behind 0-2 in the count with big whiffs in Paddock and Hartsburg.

But does anyone else think it might be time for Murray just to shut his mouth for a bit?

Let me explain: there is no arguing that this is his team. The ONLY contracts that he inherited here are Phillips and Volchenkov. Every single contract here is one that he signed, including the departed players like Emery and Picard. Just about everything that we accomplished here this past season is a result of his work.

With that, though, comes the bad stuff - the Heatley trade demand and the alleged Spezza unhappiness. This wouldn't even have been newsworthy, though, if Murray hadn't gone yapping to Ian Mendes last week at length about how his star centre was unhappy last year with the media and the fans and how they need to talk again before July 1st.

Bryan Murray is a smart hockey man, people. He has been in the big offices of NHL clubs for 30 years and you can be sure that every time he talks to the media, it isn't the off the cuff sound bytes that he'll regret later that afternoon. There is a strong belief that the Sens are the ones that leaked the Heatley request so as to paint him a a villain. That obviously blew up in our face, so it begs the question as to why Murray would say anything to Mendes about Spezza now.

Jason Spezza is a star centre, there is no question about that. He will never be Pavel Datsyuk and he'll never be Steve Yzerman. He is a younger Joe Thornton that has actually played in the Finals. He makes plays and carries risk with his passes. To us, that is worth $7M per year. He is also a polarizing player - people in Ottawa either love him or hate him. Need proof? There are people that want him run out of town for nothing more than cap space and there are people that started a facebook page to keep him. The end result is that so long as Spezza plays in a hockey fishbowl, he'll attract cheers and boos and that is just the nature of Canadian hockey fans.

But isn't it the responsibility of the organization to do what it can to protect its star players? Isn't it their responsibility to keep them happy and playing hard? Then tell me why Murray would take time out of his day at the GM Meetings to make a story out of nothing. He could have put this to bed by simply calling Mendes an idiot and saying that Spezza is a core player. But instead, he highlights his risky style of play, shares details of a 'private' player-manager meeting, and gives the media enough ambiguity to make headlines going into the June draft to make us recall the bitter taste in our mouths of 12 months prior.

Murray has done some great things here in Ottawa. He knows his organization well and has hit a few homeruns for us. But his handling of the Heatley situation and now the Spezza 'situation' has really left me wondering why he seems so loyal to his core players and so hard on his new kids on the block? It is time to take care of the players and handle a few of these things inside the four walls of his own office. One thing is for sure - all future trade requests should come with a manual on how to handle the PR nightmare that the GM will send your way.


GelatinousMutantCoconut said...


GelatinousMutantCoconut said...

Now that I've read your article, I stand by my previous comment.

One thing that I've been thinking though...maybe Bryan Murray needs some help. other than Tim Murray, who has helped rebuild the farm, Bryan has no distinctive assistants.

One option I've been considering...Warren Rychel. He's continued to build the Windsor Spitfires into a national champion contender. I know that Junior hockey is a different beast, but it's worth a shot.

Offer him an assistant GM position with the purpose of grooming him to take over when Murray retires (or possibly promoted).

Canucnik said...

Note: the "Murrays" plural don't think #19 is playing up to $7+ per and they don't know wheather to keep him or move him...with the fans it's about 60/40 to keep him...but I go to the games the lower bowl wants him moved they have had enough!

If Bryan cannot get him a "Super Winger" to play with I, for one, will not be able to watch...unless of course he and Petr score "50".

Are you getting the picture we are totally split and so are they!

Anshu said...

I suppose its worth looking at Murray's possible motives for making this a story, and then keeping it alive as he's done. Here are a few possibilities:

1. Spezza did ask for a trade, Murray is now in damage control mode with the intention of making Spezza the bad guy. Murray has followed this strategy since he claims he was burned by Corvo. And it did work in the Heatley case. Everyone blames Heatley completely.

2. Murray thinks Spezza is a whiner and this is a tough love scenario. Get used to the criticism, be a man about it, and come back next year a better player.

3. Murray dislikes Spezza and now wants him gone. This is his way of bringing about that outcome, while still making Spezza appear to be the bad guy.

4. Murray is now senile, and this whole thing is because he isn't thinking clearly.

I'm sure there are other possibilities, but those are the ones that jump to mind...

duff said...

Anshu, perhaps it is #4 and the old Sherriff of Shawville has lost his marbles and he's trying to down in a bigger blaze of glory than his predecessor. That being said, at least Mucks made the Finals before exiting stage left.

Conrad said...

You haven't updated in a little while, but I dropped by to point out that this post only becomes more and more relevant with time.

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Pierre said...

This is way late in responding but:

"Bryan Murray is a smart hockey man, people. He has been in the big offices of NHL clubs for 30 years "

Keeping a job for a long time doesn't necessarily mean you're good or smart, just that you don't rock the boat and can follow the crowd. Murrays have their talents but player management and long-term planning/forecasts are not their forte. Murray gave bad contracts back in ANaheim too and he mishandled Heatley, Emery, Corvo and now Spezza...

"and you can be sure that every time he talks to the media, it isn't the off the cuff sound byte."

I don't buy this. Murray loves the sound of his own voice and the media love to hear him speak.

Great things?
He might have drafted a few nice pieces but he's handed out bad contracts and this team has won TWO playoff games since he has taken over. That's not great, it's mediocre to terrible. Imagine a GM took over the Cup winning Wings and pissed off Zetterberg, Datsyuk and one of their top D then the team missed the playoffs, got swept then lost in 6. That's mediocre.

Murray is what he is, an old guy that loves grinders and character guys but that can't handle talented players or people outside the Ottawa region.

If this team goes out in 5 or 6 games in round 1 this year, Murray needs to go. There has been too much drama around this team since he became GM, I'd rather a GM that we almost never saw but that spent their time analyzing and impproving the team, without the associated drama and multiple trade requests...

That's pretty much it. The Shawville thing may bedazzle the media but I see an old man that's trying to muddle his way through the cap era with players that have all the power, and coming up empty year after year.

See ya Bryan!

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