Updated: 01/09/2014 11:46 PM
Created: 01/09/2014 9:41 AM WHEC.com
By: Associated Press
The Buffalo Sabres have hired Tim Murray to be their general manager.
Murray, who spent the past seven seasons as the Senators assistant GM, was formally introduced during a press conference on Thursday, and takes over the task of rebuilding Ottawa's Atlantic Division rival.
Murray has 20 years of NHL experience after breaking in as a scout with the Detroit Red Wings in 1993. He is the nephew of Senators general manager Bryan Murray, who has mentored him throughout his career.
Murray emerged as one of four finalists for the job last weekend in newly hired Sabres president Pat LaFontaine's two-month search to replace Darcy Regier, who was fired in November.
The final step of the process was for the candidates to be interviewed by Sabres owner Terry Pegula, who was in Buffalo on Wednesday.
The announcement came before the Sabres' home game against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
Murray takes over a team in transition after Regier and coach Ron Rolston were both fired in mid-November. They took the blame for the Sabres sitting in last in the NHL standings and after getting off to a franchise-worst 4-15-1 start.
LaFontaine's first move was hiring Ted Nolan to take over as interim coach, with the understanding he will have a shot to retain the job once a new general manager is in place. Under Nolan, the Sabres (12-26-4) have shown signs of progress in going 8-11-3, and winning five straight home games.
Pegula initially offered the GM's job to LaFontaine, the former Sabres captain. LaFontaine instead turned it down because he felt he didn't have enough experience.
Murray is regarded to have a strong track record in identifying young talent. Hired by Florida in 1994, Murray eventually worked his way up to become the Panthers director of amateur scouting. He also worked in various amateur and pro scouting jobs with the Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers before joining the Senators.
In Ottawa, Murray also served as general manager of the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton, which won the 2011 Calder Cup championship.
Among the players Murray has identified and developed are Erik Karlsson, the 2012 Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's top defenseman, and forward Jakob Silfverberg, who was traded to Anaheim last summer.
In Buffalo, Murray's first priority will be determining whether to re-sign several core players who are in the final year of their contracts, including goalie Ryan Miller, captain Steve Ott and recently acquired forward Matt Moulson.
Next comes the draft.
The Sabres are well-stocked with high picks as part of a youth movement that began under Regier last season.
The Sabres could have as many as two first-round and three second-round selections in this year's draft. The Sabres also have a solid group of prospects in their farm system. They include defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov, who were both drafted in the first round in June.