The Ottawa Senators announced Saturday the team would be hiring a president of hockey operations to fill the void left by the late Bryan Murray.
Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk shed further light on the search Sunday, saying the team is looking to find someone with the same pedigree as Murray.
“The only way to say it is: Think of Bryan Murray,” Melnyk told Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia. “What were his attributes? He added experience, especially when it came to Stanley Cup challenges, and he augmented the player contract process.”
“That means when Pierre is negotiating contracts he has somebody who’s very experienced and is able to assist. This person is going to develop and decide on strategy. What do we want to be in three or four years? Are we going to be an offensive team? A defensive team? What are we going to be? That’s what you want to talk about to these guys in interviews.”
Murray joined the Senators as head coach of the team in 2004 and moved to the general manager in 2007. He stepped down as general manager after the 2015-16 season as he was fighting colon cancer but remained a senior adviser to the team until his death in 2017.
Melnyk said Sunday that adding a veteran voice to the hockey operations department has always been his plan, but he didn't want to rush into replacing Murray. He added the time is now right with the Senators ready to move forward with the next phase of their rebuild.
“What do you think it’s going to take? You’ve got all these assets. This is why I waited until now. I wanted to wait until the slate was completely clean. You’ve got all these draft picks coming up, all these prospects down in Belleville and you have all the guys who have moved up,” Melnyk said.
“The job of accumulating assets is 90 per cent done. It’s now deploying them, and how do you do that, and that’s where I think Pierre needs help. He needs a professional hockey sounding board for all hockey ops. I never replaced Bryan, but I always planned to. I had to wait, give it time and I had to let Pierre do his thing. With all these assets in place it’s time to bring in somebody in to help him out. It’s another voice, another thought.”
Murray spent 35 years working in the NHL and coached the Senators to the Stanley Cup final in 2007. Melnyk stressed that experience with deep playoff runs will be crucial in his next hire.
“It’s very important. They have to be a winner,” said Melnyk. “They don’t necessarily have to have won a Stanley Cup - because I think there’s something to be said for somebody’s who’s hungry. Bryan Murray never won a Stanley Cup, but he was still one of the greatest and one of the best.
“We came very close with Bryan. You want somebody who has been close or you’d like to have somebody who has gone to a conference final. They have to have had the experience of being beyond the second round. The ideal (candidate) will understand all the stuff that can happen and nothing will surprise them. They’ve seen it.”
The Senators will miss the playoffs for the second straight season this year after falling in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final in 2017.