Over the last few months, the Ottawa Senators have started building for the future by trading away older players for draft picks. The man in charge, Bryan Murray, has done so without the knowledge of his future with the organization.
On Friday, Murray found out he will continue to lead the Senators, as he was given a contract extension.
Earlier in the day, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk spoke with the media, explaining what he was looking for from a GM going forward.
“You want to have him (the GM) place their stamp on the team,” said Melnyk. “To me it has got to be at least two to three years before you start to see that gel. You’ve got to go through a draft, do some trades and see how the team gets put together.”
This team underachieved in the first half of the season. But after the trades made by Murray and his staff at and around the Trade Deadline, the Sens have been able to turn their fortunes around. The reasons are two fold; moving out veterans who weren’t performing and bringing in young and hungry players who wanted to show what they can do. And their play has given hope to many, especially the owner.
“We only wish that what we have seen in the last month and a half was ongoing throughout the year,” Melnyk said. “It’s a different team right now and we have young players fighting to be in the NHL. We do now have the optimism that we didn’t have two months ago.”
Melnyk has seen the turnaround and credits Murray for being behind it. As such, the Sens owner was in town to discuss the future with his GM. It was a conversation that obviously did not have last long, as Bryan had his contract extended.
“On behalf of the Senators organization, Bryan Murray has accepted and we have come to an agreement for the next three years as our General Manager,” Melnyk said two hours after his original press conference.
“I am happy and excited and I want to thank Eugene for having the confidence and faith in what we are doing is the right path,” Murray said. We will try to continue the growth of this team. We have a little ways to go but the start has been a good one.”
While the impression was there was no decision made on the contract status of the front office, there really was little doubt Murray would return.
The Senators will have five picks in the first two rounds and the staff have been tracking draft eligible kids all winter. With the number of kids who have signed in the last year, and the young players coming into the organization who are already contributing, the organization will have the continuity and development going forward.
The next announcement will be the decision on the head coach, Cory Clouston. Again, there has been no indication from management about Clouston. But the word around the team is he will not be back as his fate is all but sealed.