Murray Stays In Charge
So it would appear Bryan Murray has emerged victorious in the ongoing power struggle in the nation's capital. Murray learned some tough lessons earlier in his career about in-house politics while with Washington and Detroit, and as John Muckler found out, he knows how to put those lessons to good use at this stage of his career.
Senators observers suggested Murray was locked in a battle with Ottawa team president Cyril Leeder over the future of the team, and the announcement today that Murray has received a new three-year contract extension seems to confirm that he has cemented his power base with owner Eugene Melnyk.
There have been so many conflicting moves by the Sens over the past few months that reports of the power struggle made sense. On one hand, the club was trading away veterans like Mike Fisher, Chris Kelly, Chris Campoli and Jarko Ruutu; on the other hand, veteran defenceman Chris Phillips signed a new contract and veteran goalie Craig Anderson was acquired from Colorado, then signed.
It was hard to figure out whether this was a rebuild, or something else. The fact that the Sens were at the bottom of the Eastern Conference after making the playoffs last year made it unclear exactly how the club saw itself.
We'll now find out where Murray wants to go. He'll surely draft high in June, and the Sens have a decent crop of prospects coming. Anderson better be the answer in net.
But more important, he has to solve three problems.
First, he has to find a head coach he can live with. Since leaving the Ottawa head coaching postion in 2007, he has hired John Paddock, Craig Hartsburg and Cory Clouston, and quickly found all three wanting. It's expected Clouston will be fired shortly.
Second, he's got to find a way to move centre Jason Spezza, whose time has run out in Ottawa. Murray tried to do this last summer and couldn't. With four more years left at a cap hit of $7 million per, moving Spezza is no easy task.
Third, resolve the future of Daniel Alfredsson. Alfredsson will be 39 in December and managed only 54 games this season. His productivity has dropped off, but he's still the team captain. Problem is, with two more years at $4.875 million, it will be tough to move Alfredsson even if Ottawa wants to try and get something for him.
In sum, congratulation on the extension. Now back to the headaches.