John Muckler would welcome another crack at an NHL GM job. But he’s far from miserable.
The former Ottawa Senators GM is enjoying life just fine, thank you. “I’m doing very well. I’m leaving for Florida on Sunday,” Muckler told The Canadian Press on Wednesday. “Everything is fine and life is great.”
Still, after nearly 60 years in hockey, Muckler definitely misses it.
“I was in the game all my life,” Muckler said from his home in Buffalo, N.Y. “I started in the game in 1949. It’s something I’ve done all my life. And it was a great life and a great ride. I still have the passion for the game.”
Muckler, who also coached in Edmonton, Buffalo (where he was also GM) and with the New York Rangers, said he hasn’t approached any NHL teams about a job.
“If I get back in, yes it would make me happy,” said Muckler. “There’s no question about it. But if I don’t, I’ll just go on with my life.”
After five seasons at the helm of the Senators, Muckler was let go following a trip to the Stanley Cup final last June, owner Eugene Melnyk promoting Bryan Murray from head coach to GM.
It stung at the time, but Muckler insists he doesn’t hold any ill-will towards the Sens.
“I wasn’t upset. I was sad,” said Muckler. “But I think as you get older and you get the experience, you realize, the man owns the hockey club. It’s his right to do with the hockey club what he wants to do. He has the right to hire the people he wants to hire and he has the right to let people go.”
The Senators haven’t lost a beat, running away with the Eastern Conference halfway through this season and Muckler says there’s a sense of pride that comes from seeing that.
“Definitely. And I think that made it a lot easier for me (leaving) knowing that I was successful,” said Muckler. “They planned to go in another direction and that’s their right. I accepted that and I moved on. Sure, I get pride from seeing what they’re doing.
“I watch their games all the time and keep in touch with certain people. There’s no anger at all.”
If he’s not at his condo in Naples, Fla., he’s at his suburban Buffalo home, the same neighbourhood where legendary coach Scotty Bowman and veteran colour commentator Harry Neale also live.
Muckler watches tons of hockey.
“Yep, I’ve got the hockey package,” he said.
Muckler’s amazed at the season the Detroit Red Wings are having and also mystified by the struggles of his local NHL team.
“You look at the Buffalo hockey club, you thought they might be a lot better even though they lost two main people (Daniel Briere and Chris Drury),” said Muckler. “But they’re really struggling right now and I never expected that.”
He’s happy to see good friend Wayne Gretzky coach the Phoenix Coyotes to a surprising first half.
“They’re a young hockey club,” said Muckler. “I’m watching their game the other night and Wayne isn’t as relaxed as he used to be, he’s screaming and hollering and showing a little emotion. I like that.”
Nothing will ever beat the good old days in Edmonton during the Oilers’ glory years, with Gretzky scoring goals and Muckler standing behind the bench.
“I don’t think there’s going to be any more years like that ride,” said Muckler. “I mean, that was phenomenal. Five Stanley Cups and we went to the final six times. It was unbelievable.”