Bryan Murray, a longtime NHL coach and general manager who helped turn around the Washington Capitals and took the Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup Final, has died at 74.
He was diagnosed in 2014 with colon cancer that he was told was incurable and became an advocate for awareness and early detection. Murray worked that season and another as general manager of the Senators, who confirmed his death Saturday.
“Bryan was one of the greatest men that the game of hockey has ever known and also a great father, mentor and teacher,” Senators owner Eugene Melnyk said.
Murray served as general manager in Anaheim, Florida, Detroit and Ottawa and coached in Washington, Detroit, Florida, Anaheim and Ottawa. He won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year with the Capitals in 1983-84 and reached the Cup Final with the Senators in 2007.
“Bryan Murray’s strength and character were reflected in the teams he coached and the teams he built over decades of front-office excellence,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.
The Capitals had not been to the playoffs in their first eight years of existence before making seven consecutive postseason trips under Murray. Former player Craig Laughlin described Murray as a players’ coach with an old-school approach and a knack for managing personalities.
“He was an absolute players’ coach that in my career you would go through the wall for because of your respect for him as a person and as a hockey coach,” Laughlin said. “He was just an unbelievable guy where as a player you could sit down and have a beer with your coach and talk hockey, talk family, talk sports, talk anything and he was a guy that was there for you.”
David Poile, now Nashville’s GM, inherited Murray as coach when he was GM of the Capitals and said he learned more from him than he taught. Murray began his adult life as a gym teacher, and that translated well to coaching.
“He really saw basketball in terms of a lot of the plays that they used that could be integrated…