RIP, Bryan Mur­ray

Long­time NHL coach led Cap­i­tals to their first play­offs

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - FROM NEWS SER­VICES AND STAFF RE­PORTS new­so­bits@wash­post.com

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.

SEAN KILPATRICK/CANA­DIAN PRESS/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Bryan Mur­ray holds a signed Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals jer­sey.

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