RIP, Bryan Murray
Longtime NHL coach led Capitals to their first playoffs
Bryan Murray, a longtime coach and general manager who worked in the NHL for 35 consecutive seasons and led the Washington Capitals to their first playoff appearances, died Aug. 12 at 74.
He received a diagnosis of colon cancer in 2014, when he was general manager of the Ottawa Senators. The team confirmed his death, but other details were not immediately available.
Mr. Murray’s first NHL coaching came with Washington, when he took over the struggling team early in the 1981-1982 seasons. The next year, he led the Capitals to their first playoff appearance. He led the team to the playoffs in the six subsequent seasons, although the Caps failed to advance to the Stanley Cup.
He was named NHL Coach of the Year with the Capitals in 1983-1984. He remains the team’s all-time leader for most regularseason games coached (672) and most regular-season game wins (343).
He was fired during the 19891990 season and replaced by his brother, Terry Murray.
The next year, Mr. Murray moved on to Detroit, where he improved the fortunes of the Red Wings and reached the playoffs in each of his three seasons on the bench.
In 1994, Mr. Murray became general manager of the Florida Panthers. In only two years, he built a team that reached the Stanley Cup final. Even though the Panthers lost to the Colorado Avalanche, Mr. Murray was named NHL Executive of the Year.
He later took over as coach of the Panthers in the 1997-1998 season before naming his brother the coach the next year.
He later spent a season coaching the Anaheim Ducks before taking over the Ottawa Senators in 2005. In his second season, he led the Senators to the Stanley Cup final, only to lose to Anaheim in five games. He retired from coaching after the 2007-2008 season, with a career record of 620 wins, 420 losses and 131 ties.
“He knew how to communicate with players,” Nashville general manager David Poile told the CBC last year. “Sometimes it was his sense of humor, his sarcasm, but he just knew how to get through to them, and in response they played for him. He knew how to motivate players.”
Bryan Clarence Murray was born Dec. 5, 1942, in Shawville, Quebec. He was one of 10 children.
After attending Macdonald College, a branch of McGill University, he began coaching in the junior ranks of professional hockey and won a minor-league Coach of the Year award with the Hershey Bears.
Mr. Murray was open about his cancer diagnosis and encouraged others to seek early intervention and treatment.
“It’s a subject that’s not often talked about, but hopefully my coming forward can make a difference, even if it’s just for one person,” he said in 2015. “Sometimes as hockey people we feel a little invincible and we don’t always want to talk about this kind of thing, but maybe we need to change that. Hopefully this will help.”
This past season, the Senators made Mr. Murray the first inductee into their Ring of Honor.
Survivors include his wife and two daughters.
Bryan Murray holds a signed Washington Capitals jersey.