While all the talk going around today about the job Paul MacLean is doing in light of the rash of Ottawa Senators injuries is absolutely well deserved, don’t forget to give some credit to the architect of the organization, Bryan Murray.
Five or six years ago, the Senators would not have been able to withstand the quality and quantity of injuries the club is going through right now. The cupboards in Binghamton were essentially bare, and the organization as a whole was not very deep at all.
Eugene Melnyk now looks good for extending Murray at the time when the crap hit the fan and the team went in a tailspin. Melnyk would have been well within his right to have fired Murray and brought in someone new to oversee the rebuild. In fact, many were calling for that move and were surprised when Murray was kept in charge.
Through good trades, smart drafting and creative free agency, the Senators are now deep enough to withstand injuries to their three highest paid forwards (Jason Spezza, Milan Michalek and Guillaume Latendresse), their top paid and best defenseman (Erik Karlsson) and their best goalie. And, don’t forget that the two guys likely to be called up, Mark Stone and Mike Hoffman, are also injured and missed their chance.
Obviously, the top end talent is not going to be replaced. But the depth has allowed the team to stay in games and they are on a 3 game winning streak heading into Saturday’s home game against the last team to beat them, the Toronto Maple Leafs. They are finding different ways to win and different players are finding themselves in different roles.
While not every move has been a success, Murray’s track record recently has paid off in spades, both at the NHL and AHL level, and as of right now, a combination of the two.
While the success of a GM is not normally felt for a couple of years after the actual decisions are made, Bryan Murray deserves to be mentioned for the GM of the year award along with the Paul MacLean for Jack Adams discussion.
What if Melnyk had made the other decision?