Many of the Ottawa Senators faithful were not sure if Bryan Murray was the right man to begin a rebuild with back in 2011. After all, he’d been at the helm since 2007 and the Senators had not won a play-off round since he’d begun.
PLAY-OFFS: In ‘07/’08 play-offs the Senators were swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins, ‘08/’09 they missed the play-offs, ‘09/’10 Pittsburgh Penguins beat them in six games and in ‘10/’11 they missed the play-offs again. This still doesn’t sound like the resume of a GM who should be rebuilding a team.
GOALTENDERS: Until recently they were a motley crew. Emery/Gerber (’07-’08), Auld/Elliot (’08 -’09), Elliot/Leclaire (’09-’10), Elliot/Anderson (’10-’11), Anderson/Auld (’11-’12). Murray’s best laid plans, where goaltenders are concerned, have not worked out very well.
Most fans would say that Murray had his chance and he blew it; it was time for new blood and a new vision. Eugene Melnyk was not in agreement and on January 24th, 2011 Senator’s GM Bryan Murray announced in a press conference that he was being retained for the remainder of the season. The players were to be judged on their performance until the trade deadline and so it began… the official rebuild of the Ottawa Senators.
BUILDING FROM WITHIN
TRADE DEADLINE: As the trade deadline approached Murray began working his fellow GMs until he had stockpiled three first round selections. They turned out to be Mika Zibanejad, Stefan Noesen and Matt Puempel. Gone from the roster were Fisher for a 1st (Noesen), Kelly for a 2nd (Prince), Kovalev garnered a 7th and Ruutu a 6th, Campoli plus a 7th for a 2nd rounder who was eventually packaged for a 1st (Puempel).
MORE TRADES: Trading David Rundblad for Kyle Turris was instrumental in Ottawa addressing a second line center need. Big Ben Bishop for a 2nd round pick has turned a weakness into strength overnight and gave the Senators options going forward. Swapping Lee for Gilroy didn’t work out. A 3rd rounder for Filatov was a high risk/high reward move that doesn’t look like it’ll pay off anytime soon. Nick Foligno for Marc Methot was a winner; injuries have made him even more valuable since the original transaction.
THE COACH: Bryan Murray has had a vision for the Ottawa Senators rebuild from the beginning. Hiring Paul MacLean as coach has been a revelation and Senator’s fan hear the Jack Adams trophy calling his name.
THE PLAYERS: The young players in the system have been paying off as the Binghamton Senator’s Calder Cup championship from 2010-2011 has restocked the Ottawa Senator’s roster with players that understand what it takes to win. That pipeline continues to develop players and pave the way for them into the NHL. Very few will make the jump from junior to the NHL without the development that the Binghamton Senators offers. With that in mind, Bryan Murray has made sure that their farm team offers a balance between development and winning.
THE INJURIES: In a year where many of Ottawa’s biggest stars have been injured some fans would have sounded an alarm and had Bryan Murray trade away the Senator’s future; others would have seen the injuries as an excuse to lose and finish out of the play-offs. Murray has resisted and put the fate of the team squarely in the hands of the coach and the players that he’s invested in. He’s dipped into the pool of talent that’s developing in Binghamton and almost everyone has delivered above and beyond expectations.
STAYING THE COURSE
The coach, the players, the call-ups and especially Bryan Murray are answering the bell and letting the fans know that the Ottawa rebuild is on target, is going strong and that the Ottawa Senator’s future is being looked after by the right GM. The Ottawa Senators want to contend and win a Stanley Cup, not get a higher first round draft pick in this year’s Entry Draft.