The Buffalo Sabres introduced Tim Murray as their new general manager Thursday.
Murray has most recently been the assistant general manager of the Ottawa Senators. He was with Ottawa for seven seasons and has 20 years of NHL experience, first breaking in as a scout for the Detroit Red Wings. With the Senators, he served as GM of a Binghamton Senators team that won the 2011 Calder Cup championship.
"You just strap on your boots and strap on your skates and work hard," he said at his introductory press conference.
Buffalo has improved slightly since Regier and former coach Ron Rolston were fired in November. But the Sabres are still destined for a top draft pick in this summer's draft. Even so, Murray found Buffalo to be a great fit, and he has high hopes for the future:
"There are good prospects here that the people before me have acquired. I like that. And the ownership is supportive and lets you spend money on the ice."
"Tim's going to wear the hat, and he's earned it … he has a keen eye for hockey talent."
The status of interim coach Ted Nolan has been one lingering issue. Nolan has gone 8-11-3 since taking over – pretty good for a team that has only 12 wins all season, but maybe not good enough to retain the job permanently. Murray said he will meet with Nolan in the coming days, but he wouldn't say what the coach's long-term status would be:
"He's the coach right now, and whatever happens going forward determines everything else. but there are no predetermined notions."
LaFontaine would not confirm or deny he made keeping Nolan for any length of time was a pre-requisite for whomever he hired. Murray said he's "established a lot of good relationships" with possible future coaches but said he has no specific person in mind for this job and "hopefully it would work out" with Nolan.
Murray replaces Darcy Regier, who was fired in November after a 17 year-plus tenure. He will have little time to adjust to Buffalo, as he will have to decide before the trade deadline whether to trade pending free agents Ryan Miller, Steve Ott and Matt Moulson or try to re-sign them. Murray remained noncommittal on their status, as well, but didn't rule out some big moves in the near future:
"We're in last place. Everyone can be traded. But it has to make sense."
Murray said his first goal is to figure out draft. He said he may deal draft picks for young players that other teams can't re-sign. But he wants to make sure Buffalo makes good use of the two first-round picks it will have in July and the stockpile of picks the team has going forward:
"Good drafting allows you to trade well, and then free agency puts you over the top."
Once those ducks get into a row, Murray feels the club will have what it takes to finally make good on owner Terry Pegula's promise of several years ago to win Stanley Cups:
"It may not look like it from the outside, but there are a lot of good things going on here."
Craig Patrick also was hired Thursday as a special adviser to the hockey department. He was the assistant coach of the 1980 U.S. men's Olympic team that won a gold medal. He was also the GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins during all three of their Stanley Cup runs in 1991, 1992 and 2009. He said he took the job without knowing who the GM would be because of the relationship he's shared with Pegula over the years.
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