Ottawa Citizen

Scanlan: No apparent transition plan for Murray to become GM


Continued from PAGE D1

Sitting on his cottage dock this summer, Murray should find a moment to take pride in the fact he helped build the 2007 Cup championsh­ip team in Anaheim. Those big horses on the Ducks’ kid line, Messieurs Getzlaf, Perry and Penner, were all either drafted or selected under Murray’s watch as GM in Anaheim. So were other key Ducks. Murray was also GM of a Florida Panthers team that reached the Cup final in 1996.

If Murray, 64, would like to ease his way into the GM’s job in Ottawa, there is no apparent transition plan in place.

The 73-year-old Muckler is in no hurry to vacate the seat. Asked yesterday if he had any intention of retiring, Muckler said: “I’m having too much fun.”

Muckler has one season left on his current contract. After that, he has the option of becoming a team consultant, but has hinted he’d like to continue on as GM.

Muckler has solid security, in a connection with Senators president and chief ex- ecutive officer Roy Mlakar that dates back to the 1970s and the American Hockey League’s Providence Reds.

Muckler was GM and Mlakar was his assistant.

Mlakar was asked if there was any plan for Murray to become the next general manager, as soon as Muckler completes his term.

“We’ve never talked about that,” Mlakar said. “Bryan wanted to coach, he wanted to come back home to coach. And, when I heard that, I called Anaheim.”

Mlakar has submitted a longer-term proposal to alternate governor Sheldon Plener, regarding the future of Muckler and Murray. Mlakar could hear back from Plener as early as tomorrow.

If Murray has any plans to be in management, he isn’t sharing them.

“I’m a coach, I’ve been a coach here,” Murray said yesterday. “That’s what I expect to be, if anything, going forward.”

Muckler and Murray, two accomplish­ed veteran hockey men who don’t always read from the same page, met on Friday, the day after the club’s return from Anaheim, to discuss personnel issues and Murray’s future.

They’re expected to talk again before the June 22-23 NHL draft in Columbus. By then, ownership will have given its views.

Even if Muckler was on board with a plan to have Murray take over after next season, there would be complicati­ons.

A one-year deal for Murray, with Muckler also on the final year of his contract, would leave both men vulnerable, not that it seemed to bother Murray this past season.

Forget about Murray doing both jobs. He ruled that out.

Will Murray be just another bright hockey mind frustrated by Muckler’s aversion to retirement?

The Senators already lost one potential replacemen­t when Peter Chiarelli, an Ottawa guy and former Muckler assistant GM, gave up and left for Boston to become the Bruins’ GM last summer.

There was a time when the Senators couldn’t hang onto general managers. Pierre Gauthier, Rick Dudley and Marshall Johnston all came and went during Jacques Martin’s 1996-2004 tenure as head coach.

Muckler was hired by Mlakar in 2002. Five years later, he’s still on the job, eight years past traditiona­l retirement age, with as much as $50 million U.S. in salary-cap money to fine-tune a Stanley Cup finalist. Not a bad gig. When he took the podium for his final thoughts on the season, captain Daniel Alfredsson made an offhand reference to the management situation.

“Whoever’s in charge,” Alfredsson said, “will try to make this team even better to achieve the ultimate goal.”

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk should ultimately decide.

A horseman, Melnyk can appreciate the analogy: He has two good thoroughbr­eds in his coach and GM, but one of them has a lot more racing left in him. Read previous columns by Wayne Scanlan at ottawaciti­ We welcome your comments on this column or any other sports topic. E-mail us at sportslett­ .

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