Senators News & Notes


The big news is Bryan Murray stepping down as GM (into an advisory role) while Pierre Dorion takes the reigns.  This has been expected for quite some time, with the only question being would it be this year or next year.  Nichols worries that whatever gratification fans might feel to see the old fashioned Murray removed, we have no idea whether or not Dorion will modernize the organisation or not (Ian Mendes is pretty vague in trying to pump up what he’ll do).  In general, of the various people within the org, Dorion makes the most sensible comments about players, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going to move away from the team’s outdated affection for grinders.  The positive signs I want to see from Dorion are to clean house in Binghamton, remove Randy Lee (or demote him), and actually embrace analytics and modern thinking.  It’s entirely possible none of that will happen and only David Cameron will exit stage left (any failed season needs someone to take the blame).  Since Dorion said nothing specific there’s no indications (yet) of what he’ll do (praising Ben Harpur is a bad sign however).

By any metric you want to use Bryan Murray finishes his tenure in Ottawa as a failure.  He tried to push the team he inherited from John Muckler into a playoff contender and failed, then tried to rebuild, but refused to follow through, leaving his team permanently mired in mediocrity.  His draft record, while better than Muckler’s, is only average and it’s an open question how much of his success was derived from the work done by his nephew Tim Murray.  In the end Bryan Murray was a stubborn, old fashioned GM, unable or unwilling to move forward with the times and his record is rife with short-term thinking and a poor ability to assess talent.  The only good question he was asked at the press conference was about his repeated failure in picking coaches (his answer paraphrased by Ary M):

He pointed that he’s been hands on with coaching because stuff bothers him systems-wise. Often, he’s tried to give an opportunity for people in the organization [assistant coaches, staff in Binghamton] who seem to fit when they’re interviewing and evaluating as people who can “step up and fill a role”. Despite this, he notes, coaching in the NHL is really difficult, especially for an assistant or minor league coach who hasn’t dealt with the day-to-day process as you do in the NHL. He’s been disappointed in a couple of his hires, and touched on the fact that maybe they were too quick to hire because they needed to rebound quickly to make the playoffs.

There are all kinds of problems with this–from his interference (and thus abrogating the authority of his coaches) to believing somehow people “deserve” a chance as opposed to using actual metrics for figuring out what works.

For those of you who have read this blog since the beginning (or in Jeff Ulmer’s case, have read my thoughts for much longer), I used to be a fan of Murray’s.  He seemed like a breath of fresh air compared to Muckler, but time has not been kind to Murray’s accomplishments and it’s simply a relief to see him give up his post.


Ary M put up an interesting prospect post which, while a mixed bag on specifics, is well worth checking out.  Things I quibble with:
-there’s no inherent value in keeping either Phil Varone or Jason Akeson; both players have topped out in the AHL and if you can’t crack weak Buffalo or Phildelphia lineups it doesn’t speak well to your ability to transition–they’re more likely to be Martin St. Pierre clones than late blooming Mike Hoffman‘s
-I wouldn’t sign Quentin Shore; unremarkable college numbers do not transition to the NHL at all (and only sometimes at the AHL-level)
Buddy Robinson‘s limitations are those of a north-south player who belongs in the bottom-six; his numbers in the AHL have been hurt by how Luke Richardson uses him, although his ability to do anything at the NHL-level remains an open question
Ben Harpur isn’t an AHL defenseman, much less an NHL one
Andreas Englund doesn’t have the puck skills to be anything other than a depth defenseman, although the fact that he was signed by the org is no surprise


I wrote a piece about coaching a few weeks ago and Travis Yost put up some narrower analysis for just this season looking at various tendencies.  It’s an interesting read exploring what coaches emphasize (shot production, shots-against reduction, etc), although the sample size is far too small to draw any large scale conclusions.


The unintended farce that is the Binghamton Senators continues as GM Randy Lee flails ineffectually in signing NCAA grads.  He cut Mike Borkowski loose while adding a pair of even less impressive players: Kevin Morris (who was toiling away in the ECHL after graduating) along with Andrew Miller.  The BSens season is essentially over (3 games remain) and I’m not sure what they hope to accomplish by seeing a few games from these guys.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)