Bryan Murray

Not a typo: Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk gives GM Bryan Murray three year contract extension

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The Senators signed GM Bryan Murray to a three-year contract extension today to give Murray the ability to control and oversee the rebuild in Ottawa.

Murray has been GM of the team since June 2007 and in the four years under his tenure, the Senators have made the playoffs twice, losing in the first round both times. In the two seasons where Ottawa missed the playoffs, they did so in glorious burn-the-house-down fashion. With the Sens alternating years between making the playoffs and colossal season-long failure, things are looking up for next season but only because they’ve been so awful this year.

Speculation has swirled around the position for the entire second half of the season as the Senators had some curious moves and decisions to make. Acquiring Craig Anderson from Colorado for Brian Elliott and then re-signing him to a lucrative four year extension while rookie phenom Robin Lehner waits in the wings in the AHL stood out as a particularly curious move especially with Murray’s future as yet unknown. Now the two will be linked together for the next three seasons to see where exactly they can lead the Senators in the future.

Making the Senators rebuild all the more fascinating to watch is how things broke down this year. They’ve cleared out guys like Chris Kelly, Chris Campoli, Alexei Kovalev, Jarkko Ruutu, and star forward Mike Fisher in an effort to shake things up and start from the ground up once again all while captain Daniel Alfredsson plays it year to year trying to lead what’s now a very young team through the rough stages of growing up. Alfredsson’s season is over this year but he’ll be back next year.

One guy that might not be back next year is coach Cory Clouston. Clouston was able to juggle injuries and goalies last season to get Ottawa to finish fifth in the Eastern Conference. His luck ran out this year as injuries and poor play in goal sunk the Senators before they could put it together before acquiring Anderson. Is poor goaltending of that magnitude and horrible luck with injuries the fault of a coach? That’s up to Murray to decide before the offseason begins in earnest and the suspicion is that Clouston will be out after the season is over. Then again, we thought Murray was toast too so who knows.

With Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, and Chris Phillips all back next year with a group of hard working rookies like Bobby Butler and Colin Greening joining up promising players like Peter Regin the Senators future is murky and a lot of how things go for them as time goes on hinges upon this year’s draft.

The Senators will have five picks through the first two rounds, including two first round selections. They’ll get what should be a stud player with what should be a top five pick and then see what shakes loose later on, but for Murray the pressure to make this year’s draft a very successful one is huge. Another draft with poor choices dooms Ottawa’s future and with free agents not clamoring to get to Ottawa, the road to rebuild could turn into a road to ruin fast.

Capitals accuse Letang of leaving his feet, hitting Johansson in head

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Get this: the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins seem divided on the legality of Kris Letang‘s hit on Marcus Johansson.

(Take a moment to gather your thoughts amid this shocking revelation.)

You can watch the hit over and over in the video above. This post features some takes on that check, which the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly reviewing.

Generally speaking, the three things people discuss regarding the check is how late it might be, if Letang used his feet and if Johansson’s head was the principal point of contact.

Letang told his side of the story:

The Capitals disagree:

While Barry Trotz pleads the Fifth after his previous comments about Brooks Orpik‘s suspension:

No doubt about it, Letang’s status is the top story to follow in this series between Games 3 and 4. We’ll find out soon enough how it all shakes out.

Penguins ride Murray’s masterpiece to 2-1 series lead vs. Capitals

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If Marc-Andre Fleury suiting up bothers Matt Murray, then the rookie goalie channeled those feelings into a masterful performance on Monday.

The Washington Capitals absolutely dominated Game 3, but Murray was even better, stopping 47 shots as the Penguins stole one 3-2 to take a 2-1 series lead.

(Capitals fans might see some parallels to Washington’s Game 5 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers; they fell 2-0 despite a 44-11 shots on goal edge thanks to Michal Neuvirth‘s heroics.)

Murray stopped chance after chance before Alex Ovechkin finally broke through for his first goal of this series. Justin Williams then brought the Penguins’ lead down to 3-2 to make for a hold-your-breath final minute.

A driven Ovechkin and strong overall play from the Capitals (despite this defeat) aren’t the only reasons why Game 4 might present some twists.

First things first: Kris Letang might get suspended for Game 4 (if not for more than one game) thanks to this controversial check on Marcus Johansson.

Beyond that, there could be some bumps and bruises from this contest.

Bryan Rust left during the first period and didn’t return to the game after blocking a shot. Brian Dumoulin seemed shaken up after an Alex Ovechkin hit in the third period. The Capitals might have a player or two to look at, as well.

In other words, the Penguins could really lack for quality defensemen with Letang possibly suspended and possible injury absences for Dumoulin and Olli Maatta.

This series is living up to the hype … and really building up the hate.

Yes, NHL is reportedly looking at Letang’s hit on Johansson

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It remains to be seen if Kris Letang will get suspended for his hit on Marcus Johansson … and if he does, for how long.

(You can read initial reactions and some analysis about the specifics of the check vs. the one that got Brooks Orpik suspended here.)

There are a few things we do know already.

For one thing, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is reportedly looking into it.

Another factor that could help Letang avoid a suspension or limit the duration of supplemental discipline: Marcus Johansson returned during the second period.

In fact, Johansson delivered some hits on Letang.

There have been some nasty moments in Game 3, and more might be coming. The Penguins lead 2-0 with a few minutes remaining in the middle frame.

Kris Letang may face suspension for hit on Marcus Johansson

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Update: Reports indicate that the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is indeed looking into the hit.

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As thrilling as this Pittsburgh Penguins – Washington Capitals series has been, it seems like every game presents another controversial hit.

Game 3’s most noteworthy entry (so far?) came when Kris Letang was whistled for interference on Marcus Johansson.

Penguins fans griped that Brooks Orpik didn’t get a major penalty for his hit on Olli Maatta … now Capitals fans likely feel the same about the check Letang delivered.

Watch it in the video above. Also, Stefanie “My Regular Face” has it in GIF form:

Things could get ugly in Game 3:

One factor in a suspension happening – or at least the duration of the suspension – would be what the point of contact was:

Also, lateness of the check:

The Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 against the Capitals, even though Washington played one of its best 20 minutes of the series. Expect more drama.

Update: The Penguins won the game 3-2.

Read reactions to the check here.