Former Capitals head coach Bryan Murray has died at the age of 74. According to the Ottawa Senators, Murray passed away this morning, surrounded by family and friends.
Murray coached the Washington Capitals for parts of nine seasons from 1981-1990.
During the 1982–83 season, Murray pushed the franchise to its first ever playoff berth. And in the very next year, the team won its first ever postseason series. In total, Murray led the Capitals to the playoffs for seven straight seasons before being fired midway through the 1989-90 campaign. He won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 1984.
“Bryan Murray’s strength and character were reflected in the teams he coached and the teams he built over decades of front office excellence,” Gary Bettman said in a release. “While his warmth and dry sense of humor were always evident, they were accompanied by the fiery competitiveness and determination that were his trademarks. As we mourn Bryan’s passing, we celebrate his many contributions to the game — as well as his courage. The National Hockey League family sends our deepest condolences, comfort and support to Bryan’s family, his many friends and all whose lives he influenced.”
During his 18-year tenure as a NHL head coach, Murray compiled a 620-465-131-23 record, serving as bench boss for the Caps, Red Wings, Panthers, Ducks, and Senators.
On June 18, 2007, Murray became a front office member for the first time. The Senators head coach was promoted to be the franchise’s general manager after the firing of John Muckler.
In July 2014, Murray announced that he was diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment. Months later, Murray said that he had Stage 4 colon cancer, which had spread to his liver and lungs.
“There is no cure at this point for me,” Murray said in the powerful five-minute story that aired on TSN5’s pre-game show before the Senators-Oilers match last night. “The word is we’ll keep doing chemo and, hopefully, reduce the tumours and the effect and I’ll get some time out of that.”
A father of two, Murray said the doctors told him he may have had cancer for seven-to-10 years.
“The frustrating part — and I’ve said this to several doctors since then — is, ‘How come there were no signs?’ ” Murray said.
“When you hear that you’ve had cancer for possibly up to 10 years and there were no signs … Obviously, because of the Stage 4, it had moved through my body.”
In 2015, Murray was inducted to the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame.
This past January, the Ottawa Senators named Murray the first member of its Ring of Honour ahead of a game against the Capitals. During a fifteen minute pregame ceremony, the Senators presented their former head coach and general manager with a trophy and a trip for two to Dublin, Ireland. The Capitals also had a gift. Alex Ovechkin presented Murray with a signed no. 343 jersey.
The number represented the amount of wins Murray had in Washington, which still remains a franchise best to this day.
That night, the Senators also aired a tribute video to Murray over the jumbotron.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) January 25, 2017
The 2016-17 season marked Murray’s 35th consecutive and final year working in the league.
Sad day. Met bryan as an 18 year.Mentor, friend. Loved the game, taught the game, but loved his family more. Best to Gerri, girls. RIPfriend
— Doug Maclean (@DougMaclean) August 12, 2017
“Bryan was one of the greatest men that the game of hockey has ever known and also a great father, mentor and teacher,” said Senators owner Eugene Melnyk in a release.
“We extend our sincere condolences to his wife, Geri, daughters, Heide and Brittany and the entire Murray family on their loss.”
Murray after winning the Jack Adams Award in 1984.
4pm Update: The Capitals published an official statement on Murray’s passing.
The Washington Capitals organization was saddened to learn of the passing of Bryan Murray. Bryan’s contributions to the game of hockey were outstanding, from his impact in Washington to his more recent service as a senior hockey advisor with the Ottawa Senators. Bryan shaped the lives and careers of countless players. Under his leadership, the Capitals saw the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. In seven full seasons with Washington, Bryan led the team to the playoffs each year, and won the Jack Adams Award in 1984. Not only do we recognize his service to the Capitals, but also across several facets of the National Hockey League. Bryan devoted an incredible life to the sport, and his presence will be deeply missed. We offer our condolences to the Murray family, friends, staff, players and all those whom he touched throughout his storied career.
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