John Muckler out and Bryan Murray in...just as we all suspected. Meanwhile, the next coach of the Ottawa Senators remains to be seen.
Here's my thinking, and keep in mind this is just speculation: I get the feeling this whole mess was caused by assumptions and long-standing promises. Bryan Murray had to have a good reason for leaving a GM post in Anaheim (hindsight being 20/20, he helped build a Stanley Cup winning franchise, but when he chose to leave, the team certainly didn't suck), and it must have been more than just an excuse to move home. It definitely would explain why Murray's coaching contract wasn't renewed (and that horrible start to the season acted as the perfect cover -- everyone just kept insisting that Murray needed to "prove" himself in order to earn his new deal after the turnaround began).
Meanwhile, if the Sens had flamed out in the playoffs, the team would possess just cause to axe Muckler, and undoubtedly he would've expected it. Conversely, if the team had won the Cup, they likely assumed Muckler would wish to go out on top -- after all, at 73, he is getting on in years. But when neither scenario occurred, the Sens probably found themselves in a bind. If the position had been promised to Murray (and again, all signs point to that being the case), the team knew they were in trouble when Muckler came out in the media and admitted he was "having too much fun" to step down. Team owner Eugene Melnyk was then left with a difficult decision.
Personally, we like this move. In respect to Murray, our mantra since the Stanley Cup Finals commenced has been, "Build it for them -- build it for us." The coaching situation however, is a bit of a quandry. Everyone assumes John Paddock will slip into the role, but Murray's playing his cards close to the vest. The next few days are going to be very interesting to say the least.
Some final miscellaneous thoughts...
- Bryan Murray stated in his opening comments that "it's hard to give (coaching) up". When the floor was opened to questions from the media, the first query asked was, "Who's going to be coach? Is it going to be (Murray) or will it be someone else?" Sigh. Ears open, mouths shut. Much obliged.
- Sens President Roy Mlakar generally gives off an intense appearance, but he looked rather pissed today. When asked if he would be leaving the franchise as well, Mlakar stated, "I'm definitely not stepping down, and I will definitely fulfill my contract -- I look forward to it." Mlakar is contracted to the Sens through 2008. After seeing his good friend John Muckler take the bullet, could Mlakar be one and done?
- We've recently been given a boatload of intel from deep inside the Senators' camp, but have been hesitant to share it thus far because of the omnipresent Sword of Damocles which dangles above the Ottawa media (see Boo Boo's repeated claims today on the Team 1200 of the Sens sending missives with a warning to "tread carefully"). That being said, anything that's been exposed publicly as of late has been in line with what we were initially told. The remaining information which hasn't been made public is quite significant, and if it does come to fruition, you can expect some intriguing developments over the next few weeks. We'd just like to add that everything we were told, we had suspected for some time -- which goes to show you don't need to be in the dressing room to "read the players' faces" all season...sometimes an intuition rooted in a double-x chromosome really helps.
P.S. If you want to go back to see the moves that John Muckler made prior to this season, click here. I'll update this ASAP to include 2006-07.
P.P.S. While Murray said that the Dean McAmmond deal as reported by TSN was still being negotiated, The Globe And Mail is claiming that McAmmond was signed to a two- year, 1.75 million dollar deal. We like it (assuming it's correct).
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