Ottawa may or may not make prudent, measured moves on or before the trade deadline on Wednesday – only time will tell. But one thing is for sure: Bryan Murray sure as hell has no motivation to be either prudent or measured. Not totally unlike a banana republic dictator, the last challenge to Bryan Murray’s rule – his nephew, Tim – has been removed. Conditions have been created wherein Murray has no obligation to look out for the next generation. After all,the next generation now works for Pegula’s Sabres.
Look at how carefully Robin Lehner’s development was managed. It was important to not only give him an established starter under whom to study, but when the organization traded for Ben Bishop, they also gave Lehner competition. The job was not automatically his to inherit.
The principle, to some degree, applies here. How do you keep a GM from pushing in all of the organization’s chips and going for it, even if the team has only, say, a 20% chance of making the playoffs? Having an heir apparent on the team is useful, because that person can be a voice for restraint. Even better if that voice belongs to family. Bryan wouldn’t screw over Tim for one last shot at a Cup before he retires, would he?
But now, to whom is Murray accountable? On the last contract if his career, with a stockpile of prospects at his disposal, and a Stanley Cup conspicuously missing from his resume, the elder Murray may be compelled to mortgage the future for one last shot.
Is that even a mistake? I’m of two minds. On one hand, with the prices commanded at the deadline, the odds that Ottawa will come out net positive on any transaction is incredibly slim. Also, I’m not convinced a Chris Stewart or Matt Moulson turns a mediocre team into a contender.
…while on the other hand, I think Ottawa’s real chance to become a contender was back during the great sell-off. While Ottawa did well to draft three times in the first round, the fact that veterans like Phillips, Neil, Anderson, and Spezza stuck around means they didn’t get to do what Tim Murray is doing now in Buffalo: bring in a generation of top tier players to develop together. Having missed that chance, then what the hell: why not trade a scoring specialist prospect like Matt Puempel, who may never make the NHL, for a rental? Swing for the fences.
Whatever the case, Bryan Murray is king in Ottawa now. The only challenge to his rule has been exiled (not the right word,considering the billions Tim has to play with in Buffalo…) and even if Bryan sets the franchise on fire, he’s a year or two removed from transitioning to an advisory role. Secession planning has been thrown to the winds; let’s hope Bryan Murray isn’t set on going out in a blaze of glory.