Ottawa fans will be disappointed if they expect Senators owner Eugene Melnyk to fire general manager and coach Bryan Murray after the club's first-round exit from the playoffs.
During the second intermission of Ottawa's 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh on home ice Wednesday night — a result that completed the Penguins' four-game sweep of the Senators in the Eastern Conference quarter-finals — Melnyk told Hockey Night in Canada that Murray would be at the helm for Ottawa in the 2008-09 NHL season.
Murray has doubled as Ottawa's head coach since firing John Paddock in late February, and it was his willingness to do double duty that convinced Melnyk to bring Murray back for another seasaon.
"Bryan stepped up to the plate," Melnyk told HNIC. "That's the way you gotta look at it. There had to be a change made, and I came to Bryan and asked him if he wanted to take it on both jobs.
"He's a stand-up guy with tremendous experience, and he stepped in. He didn't have to, and I absolutely assured him that win, lose or draw, he's around next season and not to worry about it."
Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry said Melnyk made the right move in committing to Murray, but he feels the Ottawa GM has to make wholesale roster changes next season.
"Bryan, you better get rid of some of that deadwood there," warned Cherry. "You better get these guys straightened out, and you better get a goaltender. Smarten up and get going, because you will not be around if you don't do something next year."
Ottawa began the regular season with an astonishing 15-2 record and sat atop the Eastern Conference standings with a commanding lead in January, but the club struggled during the second half of the schedule.
The Senators won just 18 of their final 48 games, coping with a rash of injuries, a goalie controversy with backup Ray Emery that festered for weeks and disrupted the team's chemistry, and a coaching change late in the campaign.