Photos: Washington Capitals
Former Capitals coach Bryan Murray died today at the age of 74 after an extended battle with colon cancer. He was the head coach of the Capitals from 1981 to 1990, guiding them to their first playoff appearance and leaving a lasting effect in the District.
The Capitals went on to appear in the playoffs in each of Murray’s seven full seasons with the club, but they never made it past the Divisional Finals. Murray won the 1984 Jack Adams Award as the best coach in the league during the 1983-1984 season, in which the Caps compiled a record of 48-27-5.
During his time as Capitals head coach, Murray coached FIVE players who would go on to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame: Dino Ciccarelli, Mike Gartner, Rod Langway, Larry Murphy, and Scott Stevens.
Murray began his professional coaching career as an assistant coach with the Hershey Bears, where he was named head coach in the 1980-1981 season. He began his tenure as Capitals’ head coach the next year. When Murray was fired as Caps’ head coach in 1990 he was succeeded by his younger brother Terry. Members of the Capitals family expressed their condolences and sadness:
The Bears are saddened to hear of the passing of former head coach Bryan Murray. He was beloved in the hockey world and will be missed.
— Hershey Bears (@TheHersheyBears) August 12, 2017
I am heartbroken today with the news of the passing of Bryan Murray.He had a “huge” impact on me and my family and the hockey world. RIP
— Craig Laughlin (@Laughlin18) August 12, 2017
— Joe Beninati (@JoeBpXp) August 12, 2017
A great man passes, RIP Bryan Murray. Caps fans and entire organization send prayers to his family https://t.co/IenEzhyMiz
— Ted Leonsis (@TedLeonsis) August 12, 2017
Murray went on to coach four other teams: the Detroit Red Wings (1990-93), the Florida Panthers (1997-98), the Anaheim Ducks (2001-02), then known as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim), and the Ottawa Senators (2005-08). Murray also served as General Manager of the Red Wings (1990-94), Panthers (1994-98), Ducks (2002-04), and Senators (2007-16).
Murray coached 1,239 games over 18 seasons, compiling a 620-465-23 record with 131 ties. Earlier this year, Murray was inducted into the Senators’ Ring of Honour on January 24 before the Senators’ game against the Caps.
Murray stepped down as GM of the Senators a year ago due to health issues.
Senators’ owner Eugene Melnyk released a statement earlier today saying, “Bryan was one of the greatest men that the game of hockey has ever known and also a great father, mentor and teacher. We extend our sincere condolences to his wife, Geri, daughters, Heide and Brittany, and the entire Murray family on their loss.”
The game of hockey lost a true icon and ambassador for the game today, no fan can deny that. Not only did he play a big part in the careers and lives of the players he coached and colleagues he worked with, but he also left an impact on the thousands of fans he interacted with. The Capitals would not be the team they are today without the guidance of Murray in the 1980’s, a decade that saw the Capitals become a team capable of contending for the Stanley Cup. His legacy will live on for years to come, in more ways than one.
The Washington Capitals have released an official statement, which you can read here.
By Harrison Brown