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Murray says Emery to go; Spezza and Heatley to stay

TSN.ca Staff

4/18/2008 4:35:51 PM

According to Ottawa Senators General Manager and head coach, Bryan Murray, Ray Emery's tenure in the Nation's capital is likely over.

The Senators' top brass met with the media Friday to wrap up what turned out to be a disappointing season.  When the subject of Emery was raised, Murray made his position clear.

"My plan is not to have him back," Murray told reporters.

Team owner Eugene Melnyk was asked about Emery, but he defered comments about the players to Murray, who said he was exploring all options for his beleaguered goaltender.

"I told him (Emery) yesterday that the plan right now would be to investigate possible options for him," Murray said.  "Meaning, to look for another team that is willing to make a trade."

Murray said the decision not to bring Emery back had a lot of factors behind it.

"I don't know if he was a total distraction or not, but the fact is he didn't play down the stretch and he didn't play in the playoffs, and that was a result of him not having played as well as he did a year ago," Murray said. "He didn't, in my opinion, commit to the team in the way that we think our players have to commit."

Murray said talk of a buyout was for another day, pending the outcome of possible trade talks.

Murray also admitted that it was possible Emery could be back with the Senators next season, depending on what happens on the coaching front.

"We'll figure out, when we get our staff together, whether he fits or not," Murray said.

He also gave a vote of confidence to his starting goaltender, but it wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement.

"I think Martin Gerber is fine. I think he showed that in the playoffs," Murray said. "We'll see what happens with Ray Emery. We have Brian Elliot coming, who I'd like to start in the minors and play 30 games in a row.  I think he's ready to be an NHL goaltender. If there is another goaltender available that we think is a quality guy and we can make the right deal to acquire, we'll certainly do that."

Murray also said he was not about to trade Jason Spezza or Dany Heatley, saying the team made a commitment to those players being part of the team's core group. He acknowledged that both had poor playoffs and were spoken to about it on Thursday, but added, "I'm not going to discard players like these two people."

Despite the questioning about the future of various players, which dominated the press conference, the coaching search is actually front and centre as far as Murray is concerned.

"My plan is to start looking for a coach immediately," Murray said.  "We will find out if there are candidates who are available and willing.  We'll do as much as we can to find the right guy for the job this time.

"I think we need someone who will demand accountability, discipline, and obviously good direction."

Murray said it was tough to explain was happened to the team's season, which started out so well, but his summation hinted that leadership was an issue.

"What I saw more than anything this year was that our team had the great start; I think it was a real good hangover from the previous year's playoff run," Murray said.  "I think the players came in with a great frame of mind, ready to go, and as the year went on many thing happened. Ray was certianly one of them, but many other things happened that allowed players to slide in the way they behaved and played - and we didn't make enough corrections at the right times, to take guys out, or make demands in practice. And as a result we got on a slide that was difficult to recover from."