Bryan Murray gets extension
OTTAWA -- General manager Bryan Murray signed a three-year contract extension with the Ottawa Senators, who will miss the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
The contract of the 68-year-old executive was set to expire this summer. Murray said at a Scotiabank Place news conference Friday that he has met frequently with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk this season to discuss his future and that of the team.
"We had one final meeting today that kind of solidified what my desire was and what his, I believe, is and we were then able to make a deal," Murray said.
Ottawa will not be in the playoffs following a run of 11 straight playoff appearances. The Senators end their season in Boston on Saturday.
"We're looking forward to implementing his vision for the team, which is to bring it back to elite status," Melnyk said. "I think we're getting there. We've talked about it for a long time, this in not something that was done on the fly."
Murray coached the Senators to their only appearance in the Stanley Cup final in 2007. He replaced GM John Muckler following Ottawa's five-game loss to Anaheim. The Senators have just two playoff wins in the for the four seasons since Murray succeeded Muckler.
Ottawa is 32-39-10, last in the Northeast Division, and has been out of the postseason picture for months. That led to speculation earlier this season that Murray and coach Cory Clouston, whose contract is also up after the season, would be fired earlier this year. That prompted Melnyk to come out publicly and say both would finish the year.
Tasked with overhauling the Senators by Melnyk once it became clear that the season was lost, Murray unloaded veterans Mike Fisher, Alex Kovalev, Jarkko Ruutu and Chris Kelly, shedding payroll while he stocked up on draft picks prior to the trade deadline.
He acquired Craig Anderson from Colorado for Brian Elliott in a swap of struggling goaltenders. Anderson, who was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent following the season, has shined with Ottawa and was recently rewarded with a four-year, $12.75 million contract.
Murray also re-signed veteran defenseman Chris Phillips to a three-year, $9.25-million deal.
The Senators have two first-round picks in the upcoming draft in Minnesota, including one of the early selections as a result of being one of the league's worst teams this season.
A number of the team's minor league prospects have shuttled back and forth between Ottawa and Binghamton, N.Y., home of the Senators' AHL affiliate, with forwards Bobby Butler, Colin Greening and Erik Condra gaining valuable NHL experience.
"We're looking forward to implementing his vision for the team, which is to bring it back to elite status," Melnyk said. "I think we're getting there. We've talked about it for a long time, this is not something that was done on the fly."
Clouston's future remains unclear. Murray said he'll meet with Melnyk after the season and a decision will be made, meaning Saturday's game could be Clouston's last in charge.
"I can't worry about it and think about those things," Clouston said.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press