Buried deep towards the bottom of Don Brennan's latest 'Cheapseats' article, past the fodder that celebrates the grit and truculence of Steve Ott and why he, not Matt Moulson, should be the trade deadline target that the Senators should pursue, is a nugget of information pertaining to Tim Murray and his relationship with the Ottawa Senators.
It sounds like it's Brennan's intuition, which could be a scary thing depending upon how you feel about Don Brennan...
Tim Murray didn't admit as much on his visit, but the truth is he wanted nothing more than to be the GM of the Senators when his uncle Bryan retires. He would have gladly waited for three years. Why Eugene Melnyk wouldn't give him that promise, we're not sure. But don't be surprised if the Senators rue the day they let him get away.
Whether it's a gut feeling or Brennan really knows the truth without ever coming right out and saying it, for this blog's purpose, let's just entertainment the possibility that Tim Murray actually wanted Ottawa's gig and that Eugene Melnyk couldn't promise him the position.
If Tim really wanted the job, and as Bryan Murray has alluded to before, there was a time and place when that possibility existed.
Bryan Murray on TSN 1200 on January 10, 2014:
“Well, I think he would have been considered like anybody else, but I don’t think there was a plan per se. I think there was a time that that was a possibility, but it’s like anything else in our lives. There’s only 30 of these jobs in the world and when something crops up immediately and you get a chance to take it, you probably should take it.”
During the organization's conference call to announce Bryan Murray's contract extension, the topic of the team's succession plans was broached.
“Well, today’s the day that I’m not doing that, nor do I think Mr. Melnyk is. But yes, we know when we did this contract, and we talked about it… we’ve talked about what will happen after the two years, we just have to now, kind of over the next while, evaluate people and decide what may happen. But, that’s a little ways down the road and I hope we have a lot of success between now and that decision having to be made.”
Here is what I wrote at the time:
Success will obviously breed consideration for another internal candidate like one of the team's new Assistant General Managers - which makes Tim Murray's decision to uproot his family from his hometown and leave for Buffalo all the more interesting.
If ownership and management keep espousing confidence that the team will contend within two-years, why not stay and bide your time so that you can help shape the team? Considering Bryan Murray acknowledged the other day that succession plans with Tim were discussed at one point in time, why leave if the Ottawa's situation is as rosy as management and ownership is painting?
I would find it pretty hard to believe that a conversation that at least loosely discussed prospective candidates to eventually replace Bryan Murray has not been discussed. Considering the organization's praise for the job that its hockey operations staff has done -- from the amateur scouting levels to the player development side of things to the management-level positions -- I would find it hard to believe that Tim Murray would not have been the next GM of the Ottawa Senators; especially after Bryan Murray agreed to stay on for an additional two years in an advisory capacity after his reign as GM ends.
So why pass up the opportunity for Ottawa's gig?
Maybe the circumstances surrounding Buffalo's situation were too good to pass up. The organization has incredibly low expectations for success in the short-term, so there's no pressure to turn the franchise around overnight. With a bevy of prospects and an accumulated stockpile of draft picks over the next few seasons, management is armed with the assets that it needs to either: a) use the draft picks themselves and continue to stock their system; or b) parlay these assets in quantity for better quality. Moreover, Buffalo has an owner in Terry Pegula who has shown no reservations for spending money on players. In Ottawa, management doesn't share that same luxury.
Or maybe Brennan's right and Melnyk simply couldn't promise him the job. Which if true, you really have to ask the question - why?
I would imagine that having a "GM in waiting" would work about as well as having a "Head Coach in waiting" has worked in college football. That is to say, not well at all. It's a question of authority. Who's really in charge - the current guy, or the guy who will be replacing him? Then there is the matter of resentment among the staff for the fact that someone has been officially designated as "the chosen one". No, there can only be one boss at a time, and if I am Tim Murray, I have zero confidence that Eugene won't go "off the board" and hire someone from the outside when the time comes.
@6thSens What other organization has this kind of succession plan in place for it's Asst GM's? Extremely unusual.
@6thSens Don't think it's unreasonable to refuse to commit to a promotion in 2 years from now given that so many things can occur over time
@DefenseMinister unique circumstances. How many organizations have "old GMs" retiring on their own terms?
@DefenseMinister In this case, it's almost like we're farming TM out to see how he handles the big chair. He can always come back in 3yrs.
@DefenseMinister in hockey circles, I'm guessing the bloodlines would win out over a meritocratic process.
@DefenseMinister I'd agree with that sentiment more if Bryan Murray hadn't re-upped for four years.
@6thSens The GM position doesn't need to have an internal succession plan because the pool of candidates is wide open.
@6thSens I still don't see the problem of poaching the best Asst GM/GM in the NHL once Murray leaves the way all teams do.
@6thSens You can provide an idea of how you think it will end up but to promise a guy the job in 2 years? No way.
@6thSens I would never lock myself in as an organization to a succession plan like that. Makes no sense.
@6thSens @DefenseMinister But that's just it Nichols. Nobody can envision 3 years down the road. Promises have no place in pro sports.
@6thSens I've heard plenty internally that doubted his ability to be a top notch GM. Has some serious flaws in his makeup.
@DefenseMinister No, I agree with that. I honestly just can't envision a scenario in which he wasn't the guy in three seasosns.