OTTAWA, ON—The Ottawa Senators announced that Bryan Murray, 74, ex-NHL coach and general manager, died on Saturday, August 12, from colon cancer.
Murray’s coaching career commenced in 1981 with the Washington Capitals, with whom he received the Jack Adams Award as the NHL Coach of the Year. The Capitals fired Murray midway through the 1989-1990 season and he was replaced by his younger brother, Terry, (who would also coach the Philadelphia Flyers, Florida Panthers, and Los Angeles Kings).
The native of Shawville, Quebec would go on to serve as both a general manager and coach (for two and three-year increments of each stint) for the Detroit Red Wings (1990-1994), Florida Panthers (1994-1998), Anaheim Ducks (2001-2004), and, his most recent, the Ottawa Senators (2007-2016).
Murray led the Panthers to an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1996, where they were eliminated by the Colorado Avalanche. In 2003, the Ducks reached the Finals under his supervision; the team lost to the New Jersey Devils after playing all seven games of the series. Upon his commencement with the Senators, the team advanced to the 2007 NHL Finals, where they fell to the Ducks in five games. Owner Eugene Melnyk referred to Murray as “one of the greatest men that the game of hockey has ever known.”
The Senators first disclosed Murray’s cancer diagnosis in July 2014, during which he was reportedly receiving treatment. In November of that year, Murray confirmed that his cancer had reached stage four and spread to his lungs and liver.
Murray coached 1,239 games in 18 seasons. In 17 of them, he posted a 623-465-23 record and 131 ties. Numerous NHL staff members have expressed condolences and gratitude for Murray’s 35 years of commitment to the League.
“Bryan Murray’s strength and character were reflected in the teams he coached and the teams he built over decades of front office excellence. While his warmth and dry sense of humor were always evident, they were accompanied by the fiery competitiveness and determination that were his trademarks. As we mourn Bryan’s passing, we celebrate his many contributions to the game — as well as his courage. The National Hockey League family sends our deepest condolences, comfort and support to Bryan’s family, his many friends and all whose lives he influenced,” contended Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner.
Among other League staffers who spoke about Murray are Chuck Fletcher, GM for the Minnesota Wild (who worked for Murray with the Ducks in 2003), David Poile, GM for the Nashville Predators (who served as that for the Capitals during Murray’s coaching stint), and Brian Burke, GM for Anaheim.
Murray is survived by his wife, Geri, and two daughters, Heide and Brittany, his brother, Terry, 67, and nephew, Tim Murray, an ice hockey executive who was most recently the GM for the Buffalo Sabres (2014-2017).
“He is a top 10 coach, a top 10 GM, and he could have been a top 10 talent evaluator if that’s the role he had have wanted to take, except that he loved coaching so much. The GM part of it just came out of coaching. Coaching was his first love. There are a lot of really good GMs. There are a lot of really good coaches and there are a lot of really good scouts. But there are very, very few that could combine all three. From a hockey end of it, that’s his legacy that he was great at all aspects of the game, not just one aspect of the game,” Tim, 53, said of his uncle.