The Ducks are one of hockey’s best clubs. Bryan Murray is why.
Others did their part: Brian Burke, Randy Carlyle, Bob Murray, David McNab, Martin Madden, the Samuelis and of course the combatants themselves
But if Murray hadn’t come to Anaheim and rescued this franchise from the pound, the Ducks could still be destitute. Or in Quebec City.
Murray, 74, died Saturday. “He wasn’t in Anaheim long,” said McNab, part of the front office then and now, “but there are so many people in that office who remember.”
They should. As general manager, Murray drafted Ryan Getzlaf in 2003 and then traded up to draft Corey Perry. Fourteen years later they are the All-Stars, gold-medal winners and leaders Murray envisioned.
He coached the Ducks one year and then hired an anonymous minor league coach to replace himself. The next spring Mike Babcock was coaching Anaheim in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Now Babcock is a two-time gold medal-winning coach and the richest mentor in the history of the sport.
Murray hurriedly dealt the Ducks into contention in ‘03. He got Rob Niedermayer, who was useful, but he also had this brother who was winning Cups in New Jersey and wanted to come West.
Scott Niedermayer won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2007 and was the first to accept the Cup from Commissioner Gary Bettman. On the other bench was Murray, coaching Ottawa to its first Final, downcast and proud simultaneously.
Most of all, Murray changed the structure. The Ducks’ offices were not exactly a fun house back then, safe to say. Murray brightened the vibe, hired good people, let them do good things, and exuded winning.
He also had the mischievous expression of the kid who was the only one in class who knew he had just put the frog in the teacher’s pocketbook.
As a coach, Murray would needle oppoisng players. His brother Terry, beside him, told him he couldn’t do that, but Bryan did. “You should retire,’ he’d yell at Philadelphia’s Bobby Clarke.
“He always had…