NHL icon Bryan Murray dies of cancer at 74

Bryan Murray, longtime NHL coach and general manager, died at age 74, the Ottawa Senators announced Saturday.
Bryan Murray, longtime NHL coach and general manager, died at age 74, the Ottawa Senators announced Saturday.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS file photo)  

OTTAWA—Bryan Murray, the veteran NHL coach and general manager who led the Ottawa Senators to a Stanley Cup final appearance in 2007, has died. He was 74.

The Senators confirmed Murray’s death in a release Saturday. Murray was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in 2014.

“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 in a statement. “While his warmth and dry sense of humour were always evident, they were accompanied by the fiery competitiveness and determination that were his trademarks.

“As we mourn Bryan’s passing, we celebrate his many contributions to the game — as well as his courage. The National Hockey League family sends our deepest condolences, comfort and support to Bryan’s family, his many friends and all whose lives he influenced.”

Murray began coaching with the Washington Capitals in the 1981-82 season, and was with the team until being fired midway through the 1989-90 campaign and replaced by his bother Terry.

After stints as coach, general manager or both in Detroit, Florida and Anaheim, Murray took over behind the bench in Ottawa for the 2005-06 season. He led the Senators to 113 points — tying a franchise high — and a Northeast Division title, but they were upset in the second of the playoffs by the Buffalo Sabres.

The next season Murray led the Senators back into the playoffs, where they tore through the first three rounds in five games before losing in five in the Cup final to Anaheim, his former team.

He coached one final season in 2007-08, finishing with a record of 620 wins, 465 losses, 131 ties and 23 overtime losses.

Murray took over as GM of the Senators in 2007, replacing the fired John Muckler. He retained that role until stepping down after the 2015-16 season.

The native of Shawville, Que., won the Jack Adams award as coach of the year in 1984 with Washington, and Executive of the Year in 1996 as GM of a young Panthers team that reached the Cup final.

“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 in a statement. “We extend our sincere condolences to his wife, Geri, daughters, Heide and Brittany and the entire Murray family on their loss.”

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