Buried deep towards the bottom of Don Brennan's latest 'Cheapseats' article, past the fodder that celebrates the grit and truculence of Steve Ott and why he, not Matt Moulson, should be the trade deadline target that the Senators should pursue, is a nugget of information pertaining to Tim Murray and his relationship with the Ottawa Senators.
It sounds like it's Brennan's intuition, which could be a scary thing depending upon how you feel about Don Brennan…
Tim Murray didn't admit as much on his visit, but the truth is he wanted nothing more than to be the GM of the Senators when his uncle Bryan retires. He would have gladly waited for three years. Why Eugene Melnyk wouldn't give him that promise, we're not sure. But don't be surprised if the Senators rue the day they let him get away.
Whether it's a gut feeling or Brennan really knows the truth without ever coming right out and saying it, for this blog's purpose, let's just entertainment the possibility that Tim Murray actually wanted Ottawa's gig and that Eugene Melnyk couldn't promise him the position.
If Tim really wanted the job, and as Bryan Murray has alluded to before, there was a time and place when that possibility existed.
Bryan Murray on TSN 1200 on January 10, 2014:
“Well, I think he would have been considered like anybody else, but I don’t think there was a plan per se. I think there was a time that that was a possibility, but it’s like anything else in our lives. There’s only 30 of these jobs in the world and when something crops up immediately and you get a chance to take it, you probably should take it.”
During the organization's conference call to announce Bryan Murray's contract extension, the topic of the team's succession plans was broached.
“Well, today’s the day that I’m not doing that, nor do I think Mr. Melnyk is. But yes, we know when we did this contract, and we talked about it… we’ve talked about what will happen after the two years, we just have to now, kind of over the next while, evaluate people and decide what may happen. But, that’s a little ways down the road and I hope we have a lot of success between now and that decision having to be made.”
Here is what I wrote at the time:
Success will obviously breed consideration for another internal candidate like one of the team's new Assistant General Managers – which makes Tim Murray's decision to uproot his family from his hometown and leave for Buffalo all the more interesting.
If ownership and management keep espousing confidence that the team will contend within two-years, why not stay and bide your time so that you can help shape the team? Considering Bryan Murray acknowledged the other day that succession plans with Tim were discussed at one point in time, why leave if the Ottawa's situation is as rosy as management and ownership is painting?
I would find it pretty hard to believe that a conversation that at least loosely discussed prospective candidates to eventually replace Bryan Murray has not been discussed. Considering the organization's praise for the job that its hockey operations staff has done — from the amateur scouting levels to the player development side of things to the management-level positions — I would find it hard to believe that Tim Murray would not have been the next GM of the Ottawa Senators; especially after Bryan Murray agreed to stay on for an additional two years in an advisory capacity after his reign as GM ends.
So why pass up the opportunity for Ottawa's gig?
Maybe the circumstances surrounding Buffalo's situation were too good to pass up. The organization has incredibly low expectations for success in the short-term, so there's no pressure to turn the franchise around overnight. With a bevy of prospects and an accumulated stockpile of draft picks over the next few seasons, management is armed with the assets that it needs to either: a) use the draft picks themselves and continue to stock their system; or b) parlay these assets in quantity for better quality. Moreover, Buffalo has an owner in Terry Pegula who has shown no reservations for spending money on players. In Ottawa, management doesn't share that same luxury.
Or maybe Brennan's right and Melnyk simply couldn't promise him the job. Which if true, you really have to ask the question – why?