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.