Bryan Murray as a head coach with the Ottawa Senators. Photo courtesy of NHL.com.

Former Red Wings Coach, GM Bryan Murray Dies

Bryan Murray, who served as head coach of the Detroit Red Wings and other NHL teams, has died.

Murray died Saturday according to the Ottawa Senators, where he had most recently been working as a special assistant to general manager Pierre Dorion. He had been battling stage-4 colon cancer for about three years. He was 74.

Murray had served as a head coach or general manager for five NHL teams. In 13 seasons as an NHL coach, his teams went to the playoffs 12 times, and twice as a coach guided a team to the Stanley Cup Finals, though he would never win the Cup.

Murray was born in Shawville, Quebec, attending Macdonald College and working as a gym teacher and a motel operator. He began as a part-time coach with the Pembroke Lumber Kings before moving to the Western Hockey League and the Regina Pats, winning the Memorial Cup with them in 1980. He then moved on to the AHL Hershey Bears, first as an assistant, then a head coach, before he was promoted to the NHL Washington Capitals in 1981.

He missed the playoffs his first season in Washington, but took them there the next seven seasons, though never making it past the second round. He was fired midway through the 1989-90 season and would resurface in Detroit the following fall. Though he did not get past the division finals in Detroit either, Murray oversaw the beginning of the careers of future Hockey Hall of Famers Sergei Fedorov and Niklas Lidstrom. He was also the coach that started the Wings’ 25-season playoff streak, which ended last season.

In 1994, Murray became GM of the Florida Panthers and oversaw their improbable run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals. He moved on to Anaheim as their head coach in 2001 and added GM duties the following year. In three seasons, he took the Ducks to the Stanley Cup Finals once. He quit both jobs in 2004 and finished his career with the Senators, coaching there for three seasons before becoming full-time general manager.

Murray announced in 2014 that he was diagnosed with colon cancer, which spread to his lungs and liver. He underwent treatment while continuing to serve as the Senators’ GM before stepping down from that job in 2016 to focus on his treatment and his family. He remained with the Senators as a special assistant to the GM.

Murray won the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year in 1984 with Washington, and was named NHL Executive of the Year in 1996 after taking Florida to the Stanley Cup Finals.

His younger brother Terry has coached for four NHL teams. His nephew Tim was the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres before being replaced at the end of last season.