The Cole’s Notes Version of Today’s Bryan Murray Press Conference

  • Bryan Murray kick started this morning’s press conference by stating that there’s reason for optimism for this club. He thought that the team had a good compete level and he was pleased with the fact that a number young players successfully enter the system and despite the team’s injury problems, it still managed to clinch a playoff position with 94 points. From a disappointing perspective, Bryan was displeased with the number of injuries — including Alfredsson’s — and the fact that the team blew a three goal lead in game six.
  • On Volchenkov’s impending unrestricted free agent status, Murray stated that he wasn’t sure that he’d be able to get him signed to a deal that would be beneficial from a salary cap perspective. He pays homage to The Euge by stating that he’s fortunate that he has an owner who’s willing to commit the money necessary for the team to spend to the cap limit, but also mentions that he has some RFA’s who he has to fit in as well.
  • When asked about his priorities for the offseason, the name Matt Cullen is mentioned. When talking with a number of the younger players, they reiterated that they really liked Cullen who Murray characterized as a real professional.
  • When asked if there was a Plan B if Volchenkov walks, Murray stated that a player of Volchenkov’s ilk can’t be replaced completely. He goes on to mention that a number of young guys will be expected to compete for roster spots and that if the numbers with Volchenkov don’t work, he’ll have to go to the market to add a defenceman. When pressed as to whether or not Andy Sutton is a guy who could get lumped in as a Plan B candidate, Murray says yes but reiterates that Ottawa’s UFA’s will likely get offers on the open market that Ottawa might not be able to match.
  • One reporter asks Murray what the team’s needs are. In response, Murray mentions: that his best players need to bring more; more mobility is needed on the blueline (mentions the loss of Filip Kuba as a significant factor); and says that getting more offence from the back end is an issue that has plagued the team.
  • Discussion gets brought back to Volchenkov and Murray clarifies that the team isn’t 100 miles apart in negotiations. However, Volchenkov’s camp feels that the market will net him a contract that Ottawa simply can’t provide.
  • When asked about Jason Spezza’s lightning rod status, Murray says “He is what he is.” Blames some of the criticism on the fact that Spezza would be unfairly compared to his counterparts — Malkin and Crosby — in the series. Murray reiterates that Spezza’s a good player who makes some plays.
  • Asked if the possiblity existed for the organization to bury salary in the AHL or buyout some contracts, Murray said that the team already demonstrated that they would do it when the team sent Jonathan Cheechoo down earlier in the season. He went on to say that the organization has to make a decision on Cheechoo again but beyond that, there are not a lot of options that he wants to do.
  • Murray touches upon how pleased he was with the team and how it managed itself in the post-Heatley era, or as one scribe put it, the crisis last summer. In Heatley’s absence, Murray said the roster room gave a player like Peter Regin the opportunity to make the team and eventually get a chance to perform on the first line. In short, he was really happy.
  • When Pascal Leclaire is brought up and Murray responds by saying that injuries plagued his season and contributed to his down year. For a player who’s career has been marred by freak injuries, Murray doesn’t think that Leclaire played particularly well after his first injury and that opened the door for Brian Elliott to assume the number one gig. When it came time to get Elliott ready for the postseason, it forced the team to shelf Pascal. Murray finishes his thoughts on Leclaire by stating how pleased he was with his postseason performance and that he hopes Pascal has a productive offseason that gives him a good chance to be successful next year. Murray concludes by saying that Leclaire’s final two games demonstrated what kind of goalie that he is and he hopes that Pascal will carry that success over to next season.
  • On Clouston: He got the team into the postseason with 94 points and helped some young players emerge as viable players. He was impressed with Clouston’s structure and discipline but hopes that Clouston learned some lessons throughout the year that will make him a better coach moving forward. He said that he hopes to sit down with Cory in the next few days to discuss the season, the players and how they can work together to make next season more successful. He mentions that they might talk about the handling of Leclaire, the allocation of ice-time for some players. Murray drew an analogy between his talks with Clouston and the team’s black aces and says it’s no different. In every facet of the organization, you need productive discussion to determine how everyone can get better at what they do.
  • I believe it was Ken Warren who asked Bryan Murray to clarify when Jason Spezza’s NTC kicks in — was it July 1st, 2009 or is it July 1st, 2010. Murray reiterates that it’s this July 1st when it kicks in but he refuses to disclose whether or not he’s willing to listen to offers on Spezza.
  • Murray gets into his expectations for Cowen and Wiercioch next season. He believes that both can play next year if he wants them to and they’re ready. He believes that they’re strong candidate to push for roster spots. He states that the difference between the two is that Cowen could feasibly go back to junior hockey while Wiercioch is a likely candidate to go to Binghamton and possibly be promoted throughout the season from there. He concludes by stating that he wouldn’t be surprised if both need a little bit more seasoning.
  • On the subject of young players, Robin Lehner’s name is mentioned. Murray says the contract situations of Elliott and Leclaire will give them an edge in any goaltending battle but Lehner has expressed to Bryan that he wants to challenge the veterans for a job at the NHL level. Like any other roster decision, Murray believes that Lehner’s emergence will be a matter of timing and determining what’s the best course of action for the young netminder. That being said, he mentions that he will keep an open mind.
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