In light of today’s events, Senators Assistant GM Tim Murray was on today’s Healthy Scratches to talk some puck. To listen to the interview yourself, you can visit the Team 1200's Facebook page but below is a brief transcription of what he had to say on a variety of topics. As always, any comments that I have to make will be in bold.
On Calder Cup Finals:
- “I think it’s a great situation for all involved. Right from the players through to management and the scouting staff here. I think it’s a great team building experience for the whole group of guys and especially the part of the group that will hopefully be up here and help us turn it around up here and continue with the way that we’re going.”
On Binghamton winning close games in the AHL playoffs:
- “They’re a really close, tight-knit group. At this point now, the come back in the first round was exceptional I thought but up to now, we’re in the final and I think the attitude is ‘we might as well try to win this now; we’ve come this far’. They’re playing for each other. They’re playing for the coaching staff. They’re playing for the city. They’re certainly not playing for money. I think it’s really brought this group together and like I say, there’s a part of that group that has a big future here and that’s what I’m excited about."
I have to say, I enjoy the Tim Murray interviews. There's no bullshit and he tells it like it is: the real story is about getting guys like Greening, Butler, Condra, Cowen and Lehner that invaluable playoff experience and developing a winning culture.
On Jim O’Brien and his exit meeting last year:
- “After last year, it certainly wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t a very polite or exciting exit meeting for him by any means. But it was a message and a lesson that had to get through. You’re sitting there and you’re wondering how it’s going to get through. And most of them aren’t like that, most of them are like ‘keep going, keep working hard’ – that type of thing but sometimes, that just doesn’t work. With the type of year that he had and being a first round pick, it was time for some drastic measures I think. Bryan was very willing to do that and Jimmy, thank god for him, he took it to heart. He went home and re-evaluated where he was at and where he was going. He had a tremendous year when compared to where he was the year before and maybe what we were expecting. You just hope that most of the young guys, there are going to be ups-and-downs and that most of the young guys can process that and have a true understanding of where they are. And that’s all our jobs are – is to make them understand where they truly are. Not where they’re told they are by their agents or their parents but where they truly are. It’s hard. It’s a hard lesson sometimes but it’s a lesson that has to be done."
After jumping on the Brian Lee bandwagon this past season, I wonder if at this point next year, I'll be saying the same thing about Jim O'Brien next offseason?
On Lehner and Cowen in the AHL playoffs:
- They’ve both stepped up at different but crucial times. With Robin, it was a different year but it was bide your time and play at a couple of different levels. I think many people are making that out to be a negative but you’re never sure what the right path is. Just when you think you might not be taking the right path, it works out. Sometimes it’s hard to judge but he played at the American Hockey League level and the National Hockey League level – more so he sat on the bench at the NHL level but there’s something to learn from that too. And playing in the World Junior level and not winning the gold, there was a lot of growing up to do and I think a lot of those situations had a big impact on him growing up and becoming more mature. So what looks like a negative actually might have been a positive for the right player. To come in when Barry (Brust) didn’t quite get it done in the first round and to play like he has, he’s just gotten better and better before our eyes and not unexpectedly. The first year pro is a tough year for any goaltender and the longer that year goes, usually the better that goaltender gets. He’s been outstanding for us and obviously his numbers state that. And then to have Jared come in when we needed him against Portland after a tough series loss out there. For him to step in here and play the way that he’s played, it’s very exciting to have two young players like this for the organization."
Is it just me or has it seemed like forever since Ottawa's had multiple bluechip prospects that one can get excited about?
On injuries and Cowen coming in to help on D:
- “The coach believed in the management and what we were telling him about Jared – that he could come in and play 30 minutes (per game). You’re never sure how he’s going to react 100-percent and I think said that with you guys on your show. I’m not sure that he’s going to come in and be a star or come in and be terrible. You go by past performance but it helps that he’s 6’5” and he’s a man and he can move and he has all of the tools. Jared just had the attitude that ‘it is what it is’ and he’s just going to go with the flow and if it’s this level ‘that’s okay’ and if it’s that level ‘that’s okay’. Nothing really bothers him and we just suspected that he’d go in there and be really solid, if not better than that and he’s turned out to be that."
On Louie Caporusso and Jakob Silfverberg’s signings:
- “Louie was drafted here before we got here but we’ve had lots of time to watch him play. He’s been a high-end offensive talent growing up wherever he’s played – in tier II and in Michigan. We just felt that we’d like the chance to turn him pro and now we get to work with him on a daily basis. When they’re young like that and playing for another team, we have a little say in their development but we don’t completely control it. We’d like now to have Louie come in and now we get to really work with him and work on his deficiencies and certainly let him play to his strengths - which are his offensive hockey sense and offensive skill level. So hopefully we’ve got him signed and we can get him down into Binghamton and just work with him. He is a prospect and hopefully we can turn him into a player. Jakob was drafted here two years ago, the same year as Robin Lehner was. We had to get him signed before June 1st or he would go back into the draft under the new agreement with the Swedish Elite League and the NHL – so there was a little bit of pressure there to get it him signed obviously. We think he’s a real good prospect. He had a real good second year over in the SEL. He plays in their top six in Brynas over there. He made the World Championship team for Sweden this year – which I think is a pretty good accomplishment for a 20 year old with the pool of players that they have to choose from. Right now, I think he’s going to go back and play his third full season there but we’re going to leave that decision up to him. But I don’t think if he does, that it’s a bad thing. I just think that he feels comfortable doing that. Rundblad did that this year and had his breakout year so there’s an argument for him coming over and playing in the AHL or with the big team or staying there. You have to understand what the player feels like and where he’s comfortable at. He may change his mind after our rookie development here, he may not but as of right now, it looks like he wants to go back and play one more season there and we’re 100-percent behind him."
Two necessary signings. Losing one or both prospects to the draft/free agency would have been a blow to the organization's already thin forward prospect depth. (Note: I mean from an offensive standpoint. I realize that the organization has a glut of third/fourth line types.)
On the NHL Entry Draft Combine and bringing in players next week:
- “We have a list done. Our scouts were in town a week ago. We have the combine now this week that our guys are at and will bring information back to Bryan and I about what goes on down there. And then we’ll bring in five or six guys after that. We’ll do some testing – a little bit of in the gym testing and on-ice testing. What it really does is give us a chance to sit down with a guy, have dinner with a guy, have breakfast with a guy, have lunch with a guy… just an informal setting with not one hundred players walking around and getting ready for their testing and worried about that. They’ll be here just to talk to us and get to know them a little bit. Obviously we’re not going to get to know them 100-percent in a day-and-a-half here but I think we all have the experience of this situation that if there’s a red flag that does come up, we’ll certainly be able to identify it. I don’t suspect that will happen but I think that’s probably the biggest thing here. We have our list. Our list has to be tweaked based on the combine and based on these meetings but it’s just to get to know their character a little bit deeper and to just make sure that there’s no red flag character-wise."
On prospects not going far vs prospects who go far in the playoffs like Huberdeau:
- “Well that’s the job. That’s been the job forever. You’re painting the whole picture – so what Huberdeau has done here in the playoffs is a lot of brush strokes… a lot of good brush strokes but that’s not the whole painting. Landeskog and Couturier and Strome and different guys did not get that far or they didn’t make the playoffs so that’s why you start in late September or early October and file early reports and that’s the job of a scout. It’s not easy and certainly, the last impression on Huberdeau is a great impression for every team that’s watched him play but first impressions are very important too. Amateur scouting is a lot of projection and lots of travel. It’s not an easy job by any means but our guys do a really good job of it. It’s part of the overall picture I think… so the last guy that we’ve seen here is Huberdeau. There’s no question but there were other good performances by other players and you have to go through all of the information and come out to what you hope is the best list out of the 30 teams."
Considering Pierre McGuire was on TGOR fellating the inflated worth of Jonathan Huberdeau, I thank the heavens that McGuire has remained in his current position as a media personality instead of joining the Senators front office. It's reassuring and refreshing to listen to Tim Murray talk about the length of the process and the due diligence involved. Frankly, if Huberdeau's worth is as inflated as McGuire seems to think it is, it bodes well for who might drop to the Senators at the sixth spot.
On staying at the sixth overall pick:
- “I’d maybe like to change the wording a little bit. I’m confident that at six that we’re going to get a player that we really like. I’m not going to sit here and say that if a certain group of five players went from one-from-five that we’d be really happy – there’s a scenario where we might not be quite as happy but that scenario to me, isn’t going to happen. We’ve gone through every scenario here – we’ve got a real good idea of who’s going to fall and who’s not going to fall. I don’t know if I should say this either but to be very honest, I guess there’s one scenario that I do not like personally. But I do not see that scenario happening. I’m very confident that one of the guys that we like will be there at six.”
The fact that there's a scenario that the organization doesn't like bothers me. If Ottawa sticks at six and doesn't trade up, I'll look forward to seeing Bryan's poker face on draft day.
On the coaching vacancy:
- “Both of those guys – Kleinendorst and Cameron – will get interviews, there’s no question. They deserve interviews so they will both get interviews. I will suspect that both will have good interviews. They both have a lot of experience behind them and I keep hearing that certain people don’t want certain coaches because they don’t have good experience. All of these guys have experience - they all have tremendous amounts of experience at a lot of different levels. A couple of these guys may not have been coaches at the NHL level yet but that doesn’t mean they’re inexperienced coaches. They’re inexperienced NHL coaches but they’ve got to where they’ve got to for a reason and that’s because they’ve coached a lot of hockey games. A lot of hockey games as a head coach at different levels so both of those guys will be interviewed – no question about it. Where we’re at? We’re right in the middle of it. Right at the meat of it now. There will quite a few interviews in the next few days and then it will be up to Bryan to decide if a couple of guys have stood out for him. If he’s happy with the group that we’ve interviewed or if do we have to go outside that group or is there someone that we’ve interviewed who stands out."
On a deadline for filling the coaching vacancy:
“We don’t have a deadline. That’s the truth. We’ll have interviewed quite a few guys before the draft. We have to come to term and an agreement contract-wise with the guy that you picked. You have to feel comfortable that there’s one guy that you like better than the rest. I don’t know why we couldn’t have a guy in place before the draft but if we have to go beyond that, then I don’t think it’s imperative that it’s done before the draft.”