The NHL amateur entry draft is set to begin Friday night and it appears there will be a new man at the helm for the Senators. Sources close to the team indicate Bryan Murray will be named the club’s new general manager, possibly as early as tomorrow or Monday. Murray will do double duty for the coming season, retaining his role as head coach. Formally speaking, John Muckler is retiring. After a great career, Muckler is allowed to walk into the sunset on his own terms.
After winning an Eastern title, it's unusual that a club would consider such a change but there were several factors in play.
Murray was clearly in a position to demand a lot in his current negotiations. He’s the hometown boy. He’s the first head coach to take this club anywhere. And, as former Anaheim GM, he was the co-architect of the team that won it all. It would not look good to let a guy like that walk away.
Now consider that Murray and Muckler haven’t always seen eye to eye on hockey matters. Did that lead to Murray asking for control of Muckler’s powers? Possibly. The job may also have simply been offered to Murray. Or maybe Muckler simply wanted to call it a career, although he told Team 1200 last week he wanted to come back next season.
Owner Eugene Melnyk was very supportive of Muckler when I spoke with him during the Sens’ struggles in November. However, that may have changed at the trading deadline. Melnyk was not pleased about the Sens’ failure to land Gary Roberts.
The Sens declined to comment when I contacted them this afternoon. Should make for an interesting week on the show.