Let’s say you’re a 50-year-old executive in the National Hockey League. You have the opportunity to succeed your uncle as the general manager of one team, building off the foundation he’s created. Or you have the chance to strike out on your own, taking over a team that may be mired in a lengthy rebuild.
Oh yeah: Your uncle’s owner is someone fraught with financial troubles, and other team’s owner is a billionaire.
Hence, Ottawa Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray might be the next general manager of the Buffalo Sabres.
Sportsnet’s Doug MacLean believes it’s close, as he announced on Hockey Central on Monday. Bruce Garrioch believes he’s emerged as the top candidate, even as Boston Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning was mentioned as such over the weekend.
From Garrioch’s piece from Dec. 7, when he revealed Murray was set to interview for the Darcy Regier’s old gig:
Murray is widely-regarded as a strong talent evaluator in NHL circles. He was the GM of the club's AHL affiliate in Binghamton when they won the Calder Cup in 2011. He started his career as a scout with Detroit in 1993 and has also held director of player personnel jobs with Anaheim and the Rangers.
Amongst Murray's more notable picks while not in Ottawa are Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry with the Ducks and Rangers defenceman Marc Staal in 2007. That was the same year the Senators took Brian Lee with their No. 9 selection.
So he doesn’t have a Stanley Cup like Buffalo president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine wanted in his candidate, but he’s helped build the core of one in Anaheim. Close enough.
(He also lacks any direct ties to Buffalo. Maybe the fact that he’s the nephew of an NHL GM fills that necessary nepotism component for the Sabres.)
Is Murray a good choice? All signs point to yes. His several years of experience as an assistant GM means you may not need to fill the Sabres braintrust with old white guys a.k.a. former GMs. Murray may be ready for that amount of responsibility and leadership without having to hold Rick Dudley’s hand (for example).
For a team looking to rebuild, he’s an accomplished player personnel guy. For a team looking to construct a champion, he’s a GM that can grow with the roster.
From Silver Sevens in Jan. 2013, high praise for Murray:
I have always been a fan of Bryan Murray, even during the dark ages (TM), and he deserves oodles and oodles of credit for rebuilding and turning this team around. But alongside him every step of the way has been Tim. He has done a great job the last few years of luring quality veterans to Binghamton, and it is TIM who runs the scouting department with Pierre Dorian. He is an extremely good judge of talent.
The natural thing (unless things blow up in Sens Universe again) would be for Tim to take over as GM when his uncle retires. I just hope that happens before someone else scoops him up, because he's quite the catch.
Indeed. Now, what does this mean for Buffalo’s coaching situation?
Murray doesn’t appear to have any connection with Ted Nolan, interim coach, or Joe Sacco, the assistant coach that reportedly has done a lot of the heavy lifting during games for the Sabres.
Has Nolan done enough to win the job on a permanent basis? Matthew Coller of WGR says don’t let the results fool you.