On Thursday former Senators Assistant General Manager Tim Murray was introduced as the new General Manager of the Buffalo Sabres.
Bruce Garrioch is reporting it’s a five-year commitment from the Sabres.
I don't have this confirmed but the talk in NHL circles is Tim Murray got a five-year deal from the Sabres. BUF doesn't release terms.— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) January 9, 2014
The Buffalo Sabres posted the entire press conference online, so if you have not had a chance to check it out, I’ve embedded it below.
To his credit, Tim Murray said many things that should endear him to the fans in Buffalo.
He emphasized the rebuild properly by accruing as many draft picks and prospects as possible – which in turn, affords him the flexibility to keep these prospects or parlay them in a trade for a better player.
When asked by a reporter what was enticing about the Buffalo position, Murray mentioned the facilities, the prospects, the accumulated picks before offering up a juicy nugget for a conclusion.
“I think a lot of things came together. Obviously with talking with Pat (LaFontaine), he showed a lot of interest and a lot of respect in what I’d done in the past – which wasn’t a big job or a glamorous job. So, I think he told me and showed to me the importance of scouting… of evaluating. I think evaluating is everything in our game. We do it every day. You’re not supposed to do it, but we do it. We judge every day. You want to make better judgments everyday versus making poor judgments. So, he’s right. It’s a team. I might be talking to a general manager, but when you get off the phone, you’re discussing that conversation with the people around you. Everybody is a sounding board. The better the people that are around you, the better decisions you’re going to make. So I think that and there are good prospects here that the people here before me had acquired, I like that. And obviously ownership allows you to do your job. It allows you to spend money when the time is right, but that’s on the ice. It’s development. It’s putting in a program and we talked a little bit about it last night, but they’re open to doing things properly and if it costs a little more money, we’re going to do it.”
It's the bolded part of the quote that will inevitably catch the attention of fans.
Murray would expand upon his thoughts of working for an owner with deep pockets during an interview ln TSN 1200 that followed his press conference in Buffalo.
“Well, I guess it just means that when you feel it’s time to spend and become a cap team again, that he’s willing to do it. We know it’s not that time now. I could selfishly ask him to spend to the cap again to make the hockey department look good, but that’s not the process I want to take. As you guys know, and I’ve said it, there’s only really one way to do it and that’s to draft well, so that you can trade well, so that you can lure free agents that can come in here and put you over the top and then that’s when you become a cap team. But I quickly took a tour through here today and the facilities are second to none. With the harbour front going up here across the street and the two arenas going to be on the fifth floor, it’s going to be a hockey destination, I believe. I think with all that’s going on with what (Pegula’s) done, I don’t think pro players are going to sneer at the possibility of going to Buffalo. I think we did that somewhat with Ottawa, just by improving the team and drafting well. I think we saw some free agents come there and the facilities here are second to none. We just have to make the on-ice product a little better and as I say, if you build it, they will come.”
Meanwhile, here in Ottawa, the idea that ‘If you build it, key personnel will leave’, is making for plenty of water cooler discussions.
It feels like just yesterday that Daniel Alfredsson and Tim Murray were being penciled in as key cogs of this team’s future front office and now they’re both gone.
In light of their their respective absences, questions of Eugene Melnyk's financial wherewithal have and will continue to pervade this fanbase. So whether intended or not, Tim Murray's comments about the stability of Buffalo's ownership could be perceived as some kind of slight to Ottawa's situation.
In the eyes of some, Melnyk's unwillingness or inability to spend has made him a modern day Jeremy Jacobs and there is this growing sensitivity to how this team's limited financial wherewithal affects the organization's decisions. And concurrently, I believe there will a significant portion of this fan base that will wonder why Tim Murray would leave his home when conceivably, he could have bided his time and been a leading candidate to succeed his uncle as GM here in Ottawa. (Note: Bryan Murray acknowledged this succession plan was discussed at one point.)
Public sentiment regarding ownership has certainly shifted since Melnyk purchased the organization and fairly or unfairly, there is this kneejerk suspicion or proclivity to blame ownership whenever we feel or believe that he has been a factor.
In essence, it's this focus, of which, I recognize that in running this blog, I've been guilty of it too, that seems to dominate the conversation.
I certainly don't want to be a handwringer or come off as an insufferable bloke who can’t move on from the idea that Alfredsson and Murray have moved on; especially since they're two men whose future front office success with this organization was anything but guaranteed.
But at a time in which there is such an emphasis on focusing on ownership, this should also be a time to celebrate the work that this front office, and by extension, Tim Murray have done.
In previous posts, I've already gone to lengths to outline the reasons why the Buffalo situation was enticing for any GM, so you can hardly blame Tim for wanting to leave and get that opportunity to handpick his staff and essentially reap the rewards that will come from building a team from the bottom of the standings. So for such an attractive job, the fact that the Sabres hired Murray after an arduous and lengthy search, hopefully speaks well to the work and philosophies that the Senators organiziation shares here.
And if the past few weeks have shown, it's the work of the collective management team that trumps the work or contributions of any individual. So from that stantpoint, Ottawa is still in good standing.
Per the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, the Senators are set to ink Bryan Murray to a two-year extension with a promise of a senior level position with the organization at the conclusion of that deal. The organization is also expected to announce that Pierre Dorion and Randy Lee will be promoted to the Assistant GM positions.
The Senators are still in good hands, of that, I have no doubt.
Other News and Notes...
Tthe Senators want to get a No. 1 pick back in this draft and they will be calling Tim Murray. #Sens— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) January 9, 2014
@6thSens If they miss the playoffs they will. Trust me on this one.— Bruce Garrioch (@SunGarrioch) January 9, 2014
My tweet to Bruce Garrioch referred to Pierre Dorion's interview on TSN 1200 from earlier in the week (that you can read here) in which he downplayed the depth and talent of the 2014 draft class and how this lack of talent played a role in Bryan Murray's willingness to move a first round pick in the Bobby Ryan trade.
Missing the playoffs would be a blow to an organization that probably made the Ryan deal thinking it had a better team on paper than it had in previous seasons, but I'm not sure the fan base or ownership needs to be assuaged by acquiring a first round pick in a weak draft to make up for it.
The organization simply doesn't have to acquire one for the sake of acquiring one to soothe any concerns about this roster. If anything, missing the playoffs should create necessary introspective questions about which players comprise this team's young core and how this organization should augment this core to take it from a bubble playoff team to one that can compete for a Stanley Cup.
Fortunately, the organization is in a position in which it shouldn't have to be too loyal to its current group of players. A number of expendable, veteran players are reaching the ends of their deals and a number of younger pieces (ie. Greening, Cowen, Wiercioch) who may not have the upside that many forecasted.
Throw in the fact that this organization isn't really in a position in which it can afford to lose guys like Bobby Ryan or Jason Spezza to free agency following the 2014/15 season and you're left with a situation in which the organization should be able to have the flexibility to do a lot of creative things.
melnyk spent big when with cash and future assets when the team was thought to be close. tim murray qualified the willingness to spend by saying it would come only when Buffalo had a strong enough nhl team and prospect pool to attract marquee free agents that are worth spending to the cap on. this is what every nhl team says. and anyone could believe that ottawa hasnt shown its close enough to contending since 2007 to justify spending to the cap.
melnyk spent big with cash and future assets when the Sens were thought to be close. I have no doubt he will do this again when the sens show they can sustainably compete with elite teams to go deep in the playoffs. until then, marquee free agents that could get them closer probably would chose stronger teams anyways.
The other reason that a rebuilding team stays under the cap is to be able to sign restricted free agents such as Mika Zibanejad. Fans really need need patience when it comes to these times. Alfredsson was never going to be part of this organization going forward and it was not more evident than the 24/7 where they did a segment in his new home in Detroit. His kids speak flawless Swede and he maintains Swedish traditions, he has every intention of returning to Sweden so we need to move on.There is something to be said for this organization having produced two general managers.Melnyk under the advice of his management team is staying the course and not spending foolishly. Better to bring in a rental from a position of strength going into a playoff run than to hope you make it and waste whatever picks or prospects it costs you to make a move.This team has improved tremendously since October and continues to do so. The Eastern conference is so unstable that all it takes is for a team to get their act together to make a solid run, there is a lot of season left so let's enjoy the ride and continue to speculate to our heart content.I still don't have a lot of confidence in Melnyk I feel he is was too involved in hockey decisions. Maybe his knee jerk reaction to bring in Kovalev has had an effect, enough to trust Murray anyway.
just read local paper in south florida - TJI - Dale Tallon is echoing the same script. saying owners told him to spend to cap and put a competitive team on ice to attract fans.