Bryan Murray, the longtime coach and general manager who worked in the NHL for 35 consecutive seasons, has died at 74.
He was diagnosed in 2014 with colon cancer that he was told was incurable. Murray worked that season and another as general manager of the Ottawa Senators, who confirmed his death Saturday.
“Bryan was one of the greatest men that the game of hockey has ever known and also a great father, mentor and teacher,” Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said.
One of the most respected and well-liked figures in hockey, Murray served as general manager in Anaheim, Florida, Detroit and Ottawa and coached in Washington, Detroit, Florida, Anaheim and Ottawa. He won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year with the Capitals in 1983-84 and reached the Stanley Cup Final with the Senators in 2007.
“Bryan Murray’s strength and character were reflected in the teams he coached and the teams he built over decades of front-office excellence,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.
The Capitals had not been to the playoffs in their first eight years of existence before making seven consecutive postseason trips under Murray. Former player Craig Laughlin described Murray as a players’ coach with an old-school approach and a knack for managing personalities.
David Poile, the former Washington and current Nashville general manager, said Murray’s teaching background made him a natural for coaching.
Murray last coached in 2007-08. Since then he had been Ottawa’s general manager and an adviser last season, stepping down because of his health. Murray said he wanted his legacy to be cancer awareness.
“While his warmth and dry sense of humor were always evident, they were accompanied by the fiery competitiveness and determination that were his trademarks,” Bettman said. “As we mourn Bryan’s passing, we celebrate his many contributions to the game — as well as his courage.”