KEN WAr­rEN

Calgary Sun - - SPORTS -

OT­TAWA — Ask Chris Neil about Bryan Mur­ray’s im­pact on the hockey world and a flood of fond mem­o­ries and kind words come pour­ing out.

“He was like a fa­ther to me with the bond we had,” Neil said after hear­ing of Mur­ray’s death Satur­day. “He gave me an opportunity to play. I have so much re­spect for the guy for what he has done in hockey and what he has done in get­ting peo­ple checked out for colon can­cer.”

Neil, an un­re­stricted free agent who has played all 1,026 games of his Na­tional Hockey League ca­reer with the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors, said he owed a good por­tion of his ca­reer to Mur­ray, who served as coach, gen­eral man­ager and se­nior ex­ec­u­tive with the team.

Neil said Mur­ray had a unique tal­ent in be­ing able to mo­ti­vate dif­fer­ent play­ers at dif­fer­ent times in dif­fer­ent ways. His lively sense of hu­mour was a gift.

“He could be sar­cas­tic in how he got his point across, but guys re­sponded well to it,” Neil said. “He got the most out of ev­ery sin­gle guy in the locker room. Whether you played four min­utes or 24 min­utes, guys would skate through the wall for him. In to­day’s game, that’s hard to find. He was re­ally good at read­ing peo­ple and re­lat­ing with play­ers.”

While many coaches and gen­eral man­agers be­lieved Neil would amount to lit­tle more than a fighter and fourth-line role player, Mur­ray saw more. He el­e­vated Neil’s ice time and even oc­ca­sion­ally used

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