Bryan Murray Speaks: New Division, Ryan, Spezza

Senators GM Bryan Murray made an appearance on yesterday on the FAN590's Hockey Central, hitting on a number of important points. 

If you would like to listen to the full interview, you can do so here or via the embedded stream below.

As always, my thoughts in bold.

On having washed his hands of Daniel Alfredsson…

“Well, how do you ever wash your hands of Daniel Alfredsson? He was a quality man for this organization, obviously a good player and a good captain. It was disappointing to lose him, so I don’t know whether there’s a void there going forward. But there was a time when he was going to retire and there was a time when we knew he wasn’t going to play for us, so you have to get prepared for that and we feel we’ve done that.”

This sounds a hell of a lot more civil than the "this is all JP Barry's fault"

On his thoughts of the team’s first line…

“Well, we had a scrimmage and I kiddingly said to the staff yesterday, we put them together and we had a red/white scrimmage and the score was 1-0 and the coaches were really happy. None of (the players on the first line) scored but it looked like they have the chemistry. It looked like they moved the puck and skate real well. It’s a matter of producing when you get a chance to play together and I think over the course of an 82-game schedule, they’ll be a productive line. They certainly should have the puck a lot. They certainly should force the goaltender to make some saves, so we like what we see of them. Obviously with Methot and Karlsson on the blue line with those three, we should get some plays on the back end as well.”

With perfect health, it's a line with 100 goal potential.

On Bobby Ryan being a shooter and describing his niche…

“Well, he shoots the puck awfully well but throughout the camp, a lot of the days it looks like he wants to be a playmaker as well. I mean, he’s got a great sense for the game. He’s got good hands and a good head. He skates real well. I think we played in Winnipeg and he scored off a pass. He kind of dragged the puck and scored off the crossbar before the goaltender moved, but I haven’t seen him try to do that nearly often enough. I think we’d like him to be more of a shooter. We’re going to talk to him on a daily basis about that, but to me, he just looks like a real good all-around offensive player.”

For whatever reason, the conditioning and fitness level of Bobby Ryan has been called into question of late. Prompting this tweet from the Team 1200's AJ Jakubec. 

If his fitness level isn't an issue, I'm excited to see what Ryan can do with a healthy Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson.

On the dangers of being overconfident now that the team is healthy…

“We’re in a battle Nick (Kypreos). We had a group of young people that came up last year getting their first chance to play in the NHL, really. We got the tag of ‘pesky Sens’ and they just played hard every night. They competed around the offensive net. We were able to come from behind on a number of occasions when, on a couple at least, we probably didn’t deserve to. Now we get everyone back for the time being at any rate, you have got to think that we’ll have the same characteristics, and that is: work; go to the net; and try to overachieve. We certainly know that this is going to be a tough year. We know for every team in our division, it’s getting tougher. You get Detroit coming in. We know Toronto improved. We know Montreal had a good year and have the characteristics of a good team. And then you have to worry about Boston and Buffalo, so we’re taking nothing for granted. I know that we should have gotten some experience from a year ago with our younger players and I think that will pay off, but our good players still have to be our best players.”

I know it's just lip service, but who actually worries about Buffalo? 

On whether the new alignment will make it more difficult to make the postseason…

“You only make the playoffs if you play well. So I don’t think the alignment means that much. I think you just have to be on your game most every night and whomever you have to play against, you have to win games. So that’s the approach that we’ve taken.”

Boston, Detroit, Montreal, Ottawa should be the four who make it, not necessarily in that order.

On Zibanejad and Wiercioch and how critical it is for the organization for these players to take a step…

“Well they both had a chance to have experience last year. Both of them were sort of up-and-down at times. They both look stronger. Zibanejad is skating very well. We think that he’s a center-ice man but Paul (MacLean) did put him on the right wing the other day at scrimmage and he looked very good there. He looked like he’s getting up and down the ice better and shooting better. Patrick Wiercioch has taken a huge step. He’s going to be, I would think, in our top four now. He stayed here for the summer pretty much and he and Kyle Turris put a lot of time into the gym. And it looks to me like he’s ready to be a good player for us. He’s got a good head for the game, but you’re right Doug (MacLean). If they don’t take a step, our team is what it was last year, and that may not be good enough.”

Although not much was added from what we already knew about Zibanejad's situation, the outlook and opinion over Wiercioch's play is remarkable considering that not that long ago, we were worried about how much taking a puck to his throat would affect his career, let alone his development.

Assuming that Jared Cowen and Wiercioch can solidy the second pairing, it (as well as the loss of Daniel Alfredsson) gives the Senators plenty of flexibility when it comes to making a decision on whether to extend Chris Phillips. With Cody Ceci likely to take Joe Corvo's spot next season and internal (and less expensive) alternatives on the roster like Mark Borowiecki and Eric Gryba, it's not like the Senators will be pressured to retain Phillips; especially if he's intent on earning close to the $3M that he's being paid this season. As a small market club, there are certainly better ways of allocating salaries than paying a fifth or sixth defenceman that much jack. 

On Spezza wanting to be the captain…

“No, it was a process Nick that we went through with several of our guys. We think we have a very capable core group here that provide leadership, but certainly, we sat down with him. We asked questions – I think that’s the best way and we had them respond (to them). And Jason, without a doubt, wanted to be the captain. Jason, without a doubt, thinks he can provide more. I know a lot of the young guys over the last year or so have really gone to Jason quite often looking for advice, leadership, whatever it may be. So, we thought that it would help him and certainly, it would help us. But, the bottom line of a player though is ‘What can you do for us on the ice? And how much can you help us win hockey games?’ We think Jason again, in camp, has looked real good and we think he’s got that capability to help us as much as any player on our team.”

Like someone to get Murray to elaborate on what "more" exactly Jason thinks he can bring.

On which captain from Murray’s career in the NHL does Spezza reminds him of…

“I don’t know who Jason (resembles). I think they’re all different. I think Rod Langway was more of a ‘ra-rah’ kind of guy. I think Brian Skrudland was such a dedicated and competitive kind of guy. Yzerman was a star and when we got to Detroit, he was a 21 or 22-year old and just kind of figuring out his way in the league as an individual player. So, I’d say Jason combines the skill and attitude of each of them in a different way. He’s certainly not Brian Skrudland in that Brian just had to work so hard to play the game right and he did. But, I think (Spezza) brings ingredients that we really want to like here and he’s a good example for a lot of our young players.”

The Yzerman comparison is tired and forced, isn't it obvious Spezza is Rod Langway?

On John Scott going after Phil Kessel…

“I hate that fighting, so I don’t really want to comment on that. It’s abnormal when that happens and I wouldn’t even pretend to know what was said and why it happened. But, we just have to handle it and it was a Leafs player that plays pretty well against us, so he got the last whack in anyway from what I saw.”

Methinks this division is going to produce a lot of this stupid bullshit.

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