“Bryan Murray’s strength and character were reflected in the teams he coached and the teams he built over decades of front office excellence,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “While his warmth and dry sense of humor 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, a native of Shawville, Quebec, had record of 620-465-23 coaching record with 131 ties in 17 NHL seasons, and won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year with the Capitals in 1983-84, guiding them to a 48-27-5 record.
Most recently, Murray served as a special adviser to Senators GM Pierre Dorion after stepping down as Ottawa GM in April 2016 to focus on his health and to spend time with his family. He was inducted into the Senators Ring of Honour on Jan. 24.
“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. “We extend our sincere condolences to his wife, Geri, daughters, Heide and Brittany and the entire Murray family on their loss.”
Tim Murray was mentored by his uncle and served as the Senators assistant general manager until leaving to become general manager of the Buffalo Sabres from 2014-17. He said Bryan Murray was as complete a hockey man as there is.
“He is a top 10 coach, a top 10 GM and he could have been a top 10 talent evaluator if that’s the role he had have wanted to take, except that he loved coaching so much,” Tim Murray, who was fired by the Sabres in April, said. “The GM part of it just came out of coaching. Coaching was his first love. There are a lot of really good GMs. There are a lot of really good coaches and there are a lot of really good scouts.
“But there are very, very few that could combine all three. From a hockey end of it, that’s his legacy that he was great at all aspects of the game, not just one aspect of the game.”
Among the NHL executives Murray mentored is Minnesota Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher. When Murray was honored by his peers at the general managers meeting in Florida in 2015, Fletcher spoked about Murray’s ability as a scout.
“To this day, he is the best hockey scout I have ever seen. He has that uncanny ability to go into a rink and just recognize hockey players right away. A tremendous judge of talent,” Fletcher said.
When Fletcher worked for Murray in 2003 with the Anaheim Ducks, along with Tim Murray, they had a debate about a player with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League.
“We had a debate amongst our scouts about a guy named Corey Perry. He wasn’t a very good skater,” Fletcher said. “Tim, to his credit, liked Corey Perry. He couldn’t really get up and down the ice that well. We were playing Detroit that year in the first round and we took a side trip to Plymouth to go watch Corey Perry play.
“We watch London play Plymouth in the playoffs and (Bryan Murray) watches Corey Perry. He watches about three shifts and he says, ‘I’m not sure what you guys are worried about. This guy is going to be a star.’ He just had that ability to see players right away. He loves talent. He’s been a part of some tougher teams, but I’ve never seen a guy who loves skill like Bryan. He could see it. He could appreciate hockey sense.”
Murray coached the Senators to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Ducks in five games. He was also the GM of the Ducks when they made the 2003 Final, losing to the New Jersey Devils in six games, and the Panthers when they lost to the Colorado Avalanche in four games in the 1996 Final.
“The Anaheim Ducks family mourns the loss of Bryan Murray, who passed away this morning,” the Ducks said in a statement. “As both head coach and general manager of the team (2001-04), Bryan led our organization with class, dignity and charisma. He won 620 games as an NHL head coach and led three teams to the Stanley Cup Final, including 2003, when he served as the architect of our amazing run. But Bryan’s legacy goes far beyond his success on the ice, including his courageous fight with cancer and countless contributions to the communities he served. He will be forever remembered by all he touched.”
“The Washington Capitals organization was saddened to learn of the passing of Bryan Murray,” the Capitals said in a statement. “Bryan’s contributions to the game of hockey were outstanding, from his impact in Washington to his more recent service as a senior hockey advisor with the Ottawa Senators. Bryan shaped the lives and careers of countless players. Under his leadership, the Capitals saw the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. In seven full seasons with Washington, Bryan led the team to the playoffs each year, and won the Jack Adams Award in 1984. Not only do we recognize his service to the Capitals, but also across several facets of the National Hockey League. Bryan devoted an incredible life to the sport, and his presence will be deeply missed. We offer our condolences to the Murray family, friends, staff, players and all those whom he touched throughout his storied career.”