MURRAY BRINGS A NO-NONSENSE APPROACH TO SABRES GM POSITION
Craig Patrick also hired as Special Assistant & Advisor to the Hockey Department
Tim Murray has spent 20 years working in the National Hockey League for five different teams. The long hours he's put in while helping to build some of the NHL's most successful teams has finally paid off, as Murray was named the seventh general manager in Buffalo Sabres franchise history on Thursday.
Murray was introduced during a press conference at First Niagara Center, along with the news the club had hired Craig Patrick. The longtime general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame will serve as a special assistant and advisor to the hockey department.
The moves were the first major hirings by Pat LaFontaine since he was brought on board as Buffalo's President of Hockey Operations on November 13.
"One of the commitments I have to Terry and Kim Pegula was to put together what I thought would be the best hockey operations team to build the best team for the future for the Buffalo Sabres," said LaFontaine. "I’ve identified Tim Murray and Craig Patrick as pieces to that hockey operations team that’s going to really help us get to where we need to be."
Murray comes to the Sabres after serving as the assistant general manager for the Ottawa Senators, a post he held for seven years. Part of his duties as assistant general manager included serving as general manager of Ottawa’s American Hockey League affiliate, the 2011 Calder-Cup champion Binghamton Senators.
Despite working alongside his uncle - Senators GM Bryan Murray - in Ottawa, the 50-year-old Murray said the opportunity to interview for the Sabres job was immediately appealing to him.
"It’s extremely attractive. When Bryan came to me this time and said, ‘They’ve called and asked for permission, should I grant it?’ it didn’t take me long to say yes," explained Murray. "I came from a comfortable situation. I’m from the Ottawa area. My wife and kids are there. Everybody was speculating that I might be the next guy there. I don’t know whether I was going to be or not, but I’m sure I would’ve been a candidate. And when this came up and a blank slate, money to spend when it’s the right time to be a cap team, this was just an attractive, attractive time for me to just branch out on my own and try to put my stamp on the game of hockey."
Murray is renowned to be a strong voice at the draft table during his time in Ottawa and Anaheim, playing a part in selecting current susperstars Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Erik Karlsson. He is hoping to find that same magic in Buffalo, while also continuing to develop the numerous young prospects in the Sabres' system.
"My goal here is to put an emphasis on the development of the people that are already here. There’s also pieces on the team. There are young guys on the team that I liked in their draft years, and guys I’ve liked while coming in here as a scout or as an assistant GM," said Murray. "There are pieces here, so the cupboard’s not bare. In saying that, there are a couple positions that we have to improve on and that’s our goal moving forward."
Prior to being named the Senators’ assistant general manager in 2007, Murray spent three years (2002-2005) as the director of player personnel for the Anaheim Ducks, where he was responsible for overseeing the amateur draft and college free agents. He also served as the assistant director of player personnel for the New York Rangers for two years (2005-2007), where he evaluated potential free agents and also worked as an amateur scout. Murray began his NHL career in 1993-94, when he was hired as an amateur scout for the Detroit Red Wings. He then moved on to the Florida Panthers, where he served as a scout from 1994-2002.
Murray brings a no-nonsense approach to his new position, and freely admits that he has a personality that can be "pretty gruff" at times. But the native of Shawville, Quebec - with its population of 1,664 - thinks he may have found a home in Western New York.
"I come from a small farming community that’s blue collar and hard working. I think Buffalo’s along the same lines. Maybe I’ll fit in here."
While the rumors of Murray's imminent hiring in Buffalo began to make the rounds on Monday, today's announcement also included the surprise hiring of Patrick. Murray knows that having the chance to work with such a respected hockey executive like Patrick will only make his job easier.
"[He’s] a veteran hockey guy that wants to come to Buffalo and give his input when he’s asked. I’ve worked with veteran guys. No matter what you think you know, their experience is invaluable. I worked with Bryan Murray, who’s 70 or 71. You can learn every day from those guys."
Patrick, whose career as a hockey executive spans more than three decades, comes to the Sabres after serving as a senior advisor in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ front office since December 2011. A 2001 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Patrick has earned a reputation as one of the most respected executives in hockey, having been named the Sporting News’ NHL Executive of the Year three times (1990-91, 1997-98 and 1998-99) and also the recipient of the 2000 Lester Patrick Trophy, named after his grandfather, for his many contributions to hockey in the United States.
For 17 years (1989-2006) Patrick served as the executive vice president and general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins, during which time he elevated the club to being one of the elite teams in the NHL. During his tenure, the Penguins won back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships (1991 and 1992), earned five division titles and made 11 trips to the playoffs. He also helped the Penguins procure some of the best players in team history including Jaromir Jagr, Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby.
Patrick’s career in the NHL as a hockey executive began in 1981, when he was hired to be general manager of the New York Rangers, a post he held until 1986. He has also served as general manager of the 2002 silver-medal winning U.S. Olympic team and assistant general manager of the famed 1980 U.S. Olympic team that won a gold medal in the “Miracle on Ice.”