Senators owner Eugene Melnyk announced today that he has re-signed Bryan Murray to a new three-year contract. That’s Bryan Murray – the man who comprehensively dismantled the Ottawa Senators since arriving in 2007. What Murray has done to earn his extension – beyond burn a cup finalist club down to it’s foundation in the space of four years – is beyond me.
Murray was hired in the summer of 2007 to replace the deposed John Muckler. The 2006-07 Senators compiled a 48-25-9 record during the regular season (105 points) and were eventually felled in the finals. That Senators squad featured one of the strongest forward units in the league with Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson. The back-end was anchored by Chris Philips and Anton Volchenkov. Antoine Vermette, Mike Fisher, Patrick Eaves and Chris Kelly were solid depth contributors.
Muckler’s firing was therefore somewhat surprising given the quality of club he had managed to cobble together. The 2006-07 Senators weren’t merely a flash-in-the-pan or sudden Cinderella story: they had spent numerous years finishing at the top of the Eastern standings. A lack of play-off success was the lone stigma attached to the Muckler built Sens and that was (mostly) erased by their 2007 cup run.
The team has obviously been in rapid decline Muckler’s departure, falling from 105 points to 94, 83, 94 and 74-76 points this year. Murray’s tenure in Ottawa has been a train wreck in slow motion, with core pieces fleeing via free agency and trade demands without being replaced. His efforts have been marked by ill-advised trades and signings; moves that were bad bets at the time and more so in retrospect. Lest anyone accuse me of leaning on hindsight, I roundly criticized Murray for the Heatley trade, the Vermette trade, the Chris Neil contract and the Alexi Kovalev deal more or less when they occurred. Here is some more of his misdeeds*.
*excepting the Redden/Chara thing. I believe Muckler was the guy who got that one wrong.
It’s supremely ironic that the Senators organization is rewarding Murray for tearing down the juggernaut team built by his predecessor…whom they fired. In fact, I can’t quite imagine how the management of the Ottawa Senators could have been worse since Muckler’s departure. Hell, a dart-throwing monkey would have roughly the same success rate in terms of decision-making and would likely cost significantly less in terms of salary.