I have been in the process of doing a scouting report series for SenShot focusing on the Binghamton Senators 2014-’15 season and in doing so, in the last of four featured articles to come, I got so involved in part of the epilogue, that it got too big to the point where I decided it deserves it’s own recognition. So here it is in it’s original format.
Bryan Murray and the B-Sens
As Bryan Murray continues to undergo treatment in his efforts to recover and beat cancer, I wanted to add something that shouldn’t be overlooked as a hockey fan supporting the B-Sens as we re-visit a few seasons ago:
"“By sending Denis Hamel and people of that nature, we wanted to say to fans that we really care. We want good depth players. We want you to be proud of the team in your town. And I think at the end of the day that’ll be the case.”Bryan Murray in reference to Ottawa’s commitment as quoted to Michael Sharp, then team beat writer for the Press & Sun-Bulletin."
That was back in Oct of 2007 soon after Bryan Murray was named GM for the Ottawa Senators. The B-Sens finished the season prior to his promotion with a 23-48-4-5 record, good for dead last in the AHL. These were certainly not happy times for hockey fans in Binghamton. They missed the post season play once again as their division rivals didn’t. Booing was the norm for their coach along with banners replicated the same. They didn’t have a GM, so no effort was made to keep anybody by re-signing a select few players (namely rookie Andrew Ebbett being one that hurt the most) and letting them to simply, just walk away and sign with another team.
That brought a lot of animosity against the organization as cries of “they don’t care” and rumors of the club was relocating north up in Canada.
It was ugly. Real ugly.
After John Muckler was fired as GM of the Ottawa Senators in June of ’07, Ottawa began to clean house and start over as they realized they had no prospects or veterans to make the 265 mile trip up north if they needed an emergency recall or roster fill in. Bryan immediately brought in his nephew Tim to serve as Binghamton’s new GM which had been left vacant, as Muckler had choked the team breathless in leaving very little prospect’s cycling through the system and zero vets, but at the very least, it was a start that caught the attention of B-Sens’ faithful.
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Tim’s first mission was to go back in time and bring back fan favorite Denis Hamel, and boy did he. Hammer agreed to an offer that made even the ESPN hockey analytic’s giddy back then. An extremely rare, three-year exclusive AHL contract that brought stability to his wishes. That put a stamp on the envelope as the Murrays’ meant business in gaining back the fan’s respect in the organization.
Advance forward, as 11 rookies were in the line up with eight being drafted, to rebuild a team around the newly signed Hamel in that season of 2007-’08. They ended up with a 34-32-9-5 record, good for sixth place in the East Division, and began to build on that with 91 and 81 points in the next two seasons but overall, it took four, long agonizing years to finally land back in the post season once again in 2011 for the first time since 2005.
After winning the Calder Cup Championship in 2011, the club suffered a brief hangover the following season finishing last in the league as the team was uprooted once again. However the big difference this time around was, Bryan was ready with new prospect’s already drafted and prepared to go and hired Luke Richardson as the new coach as the club quickly turned it around by coming just short of the division title but making the playoffs once again in 2013.
The B-Sens continue to be a competitive force and enter the new season as favorites to repeat as division champs. As far as the fans that’s all they ask for. To put out a good, entertaining product on the ice that is competitive year round and is a winner. Yeah, Bryan and Tim weren’t harmoniously perfect by any means over the course with some questionable player movements, but they will always be remembered as the GM’s that finally put it all together and delivered what this city was lacking and some starving fan’s have prayed for over 40 years, a hockey championship.
Bryan Murray delivered what he preached back in ’07 about ‘want(ing) us to be proud of our hockey team’. You know what? He did and finally gave us something to brag about in the hockey world. So after that, all I have to say is..
Thank you Bryan Murray.