At a Sunday morning press conference, Senators GM Bryan Murray announced that he is officially stepping down from his post as the team’s architect, and assistant GM and director of player personnel Pierre Dorion will now assume the role as Ottawa’s GM.
Even with Murray stepping out of the spotlight as the team’s GM, a post he has held for the past nine seasons, he will remain on as a senior advisor with the Senators. Murray, 73, was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in July 2014, but remained the Senators’ GM since the diagnosis. However, it was understood that Murray was operating on a season-to-season basis as the team’s GM.
“It’s time to step aside and have a different role with the organization,” Murray said. “Every day in the NHL has been a challenge and it has been great, and it’s taken some time to come to this decision…With the medical situation I’m in, I felt that I had to look at that, as well. After talking to the doctors I’m involved with on a regular basis, I thought it was the right decision to come to, as well.”
And though it may be the right decision, Murray readily admitted that it wasn’t an easy one and it wasn’t made long ago. In fact, it wasn’t until this past week — the final week of the season — that Murray really decided to step down.
“I’ve been struggling with (the decision) for the past month, but I made it on Wednesday,” Murray said. “I thought about it, met with Eugene and we had a long discussion about where we’re going, what we’re doing. And I just felt at the time and suggested ahead of time that in all likelihood it was the right time.”
Murray added that it’s not a decision that was made solely based on his health, though, and that both his age and time in the league — this was his 35th season in the NHL — made it time for him to move on.
As for Dorion, he has long been speculated to be the successor to Murray, but Sunday’s announcement makes the change official. The 43-year-old has spent the past nine seasons with the Senators, beginning as the club’s director of amateur scouting in 2007-08, moving to the player personnel role in 2009-10 and earning a mid-season promotion to assistant GM during the 2013-14 campaign. Prior to coming to Ottawa, Dorion spent 13 seasons as an NHL scout, 11 of which were spent with the Montreal Canadiens before a two-year stint scouting for the New York Rangers.
The change in GMs was the only major news to come out of the press conference, but that doesn’t mean Dorion doesn’t have his work cut out for him. There are rumblings that coach Dave Cameron could be axed following a season in which the Senators missed the post-season by nine points and finished 19th in the league with a 38-35-9 record.
“A decision on the coaching, Dave and the other coaches, will follow,” Dorion said. “I think today’s more about the changes that are happening to the management structure, more about Bryan than anyone else today. In the upcoming weeks, we’ll have a chance to discuss (the coaching staff).”
Dorion added that he hasn’t known for long that he would move into the GM position, and decisions on personnel, coaching staff and steps moving forward would be made once he has the proper time to assess the team. So while the shift in GMs Sunday was a significant one in Ottawa, it may be far from the last notable move the Senators make this off-season.