Saturday, 12 August 2017

A Good Man Gone

The hockey world, and the world in general, lost an incredible man today as it was announced that Bryan Murray passed on after a long battle with colon cancer at the age of 74. Murray was a very unique individual whose sharp mind and ever sharper retorts to questions were appreciated by all. The courage he showed in his battle with colon cancer not only showed his inextinguishable human spirit, but showed that Murray would not let cancer slow him down. Losing a man like Bryan Murray today seems a little unfair considering all he did for the game of hockey, the players and personnel he met and gave chances to regarding their dreams, and the countless fans who had experiences with him. He will be missed.

For the last three years, Murray had been battling Stage 4 colon cancer, and he told TSN's Michael Farber in 2014 that there was not going to be a last-minute victory in this battle.
"The word is we'll keep doing chemo and, hopefully, reduce the tumors and the effect and I'll get some time out of that," Murray said. "There is no cure for me at this point."
As per the report linked above, "According to doctors the cancer had been living in Murray's body for seven to 10 years before it was caught."
"The frustrating part – and I've said this to several doctors since then – is, 'How come there were no signs?'" Murray, 71, asked. "When you hear that you've had cancer for possibly up to 10 years and there were no signs... obviously, because of the Stage 4, it had moved through my body."
Murray didn't let the anger or frustration of his situation get the better of him, though. As he stated,
"Let's go to extra overtime and keep playing like the game we played against the Islanders many years ago and we went to four overtime periods," Murray said. "Let's just keep it going as long as we can, be as healthy as we can for that time, and enjoy what we have as we do it."
And that's what Bryan Murray should be remembered for: his never-give-up, turn-a-frown-upside-down attitude that saw accumulate a ton of successes in his hockey career. This is a man who earned 620 NHL coaching wins - 10th-place all-time - and has won both a Jack Adams Award and an NHL Executive of the Year Award. He's won a Memorial Cup with the Regina Pats, the CJHL's Centennial Cup with the Rockland Nationals, and has been inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame. The man's reputation in hockey was succinctly summed up by his long-time friend and Nashville Predators GM David Poile when, last season, he said of Murray,
"Players always have good things to say about Bryan," Poile said. "He knew how to communicate with players. Sometimes it was his sense of humour, his sarcasm, but he just knew how to get through to them and in response they played for him. He knew how to motivate players."
There might be no greater compliment one can give a coach than what Poile said of Murray. But it wasn't his coaching legacy that Bryan was most proud of as he was often fondly remembered as a loving husband, devoted father, doting grandfather, and loyal friend. Bryan's connection to everyone he met, to his friends, and to his family was vitally important to him, and he would often do whatever he could to put those people he cared for ahead of himself.
"I can't say enough about Bryan," said longtime Senator Mike Fisher. "He was always so good to me and when it came time to move me he could have traded me anywhere, but he wanted (wife and country music star Carrie underwood) and I to be together and he was able to make a deal with David (Poile) to get me to Nashville.

"That's just the kind of guy he was. He always thought about you as more than just a player. He wanted what was best for you as a person."
In hearing that, I'd hope that more people would strive to be like Bryan Murray. There are far too many who worry about the bottom line or where the team is in the standings who lose perspective of everything that goes on outside of hockey. The fact that he did all he could to accommodate Mike Fisher's request to move to Nashville to be closer to his wife shows you that it's not always about winning and losing. Sometimes, it's about the people, and Bryan Murray never forgot that aspect whether he was making deals in the GM chair, handing out instructions as a coach, or simply providing sound advice to those that asked.

The world lost a good man today. Rest in peace, Bryan Murray. You're a legend in this game called "life".

Until next time, raise your sticks high in honour of Mr. Murray!

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