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Senators GM Bryan Murray happy to keep working while battling cancer

11/18/2014 05:18 EST | Updated 01/18/2015 05:59 EST
TORONTO - Bryan Murray postponed his chemotherapy treatment to attend an NHL meeting Tuesday, another sign the Ottawa Senators general manager is continuing to do his job while battling Stage 4 colon cancer.

Murray has lost more than 40 pounds and doctors have told him there is no cure.

Despite his health issues, the 71-year-old was in good spirits at the league's general managers meeting.

"Some days a little tired, but other than that I feel fine," Murray said as he held court with reporters for almost 10 minutes. "It's always good to come to meetings and be involved and see what's happening in the world of our game. I hope to continue in that for a long time."

The Senators announced over the summer that Murray had been diagnosed with cancer and was beginning treatment immediately. In a televised interview last week, Murray revealed the severity of his illness, which doctors say he was living with for seven to 10 years and has spread to his liver and lung.

Murray said he did the interview only to reinforce how important it is to get a colonoscopy, which could have caught his cancer earlier. In his own life, Murray has already noticed an impact.

"I've had some former players call me that played for me years ago that hadn't had any kind of medical attention to that area," he said. "A nurse told me last night that four or five people at one of the clinics in Ottawa sent in and said because of the interview they're kind of smart enough now to step up and get themselves examined. I hope and feel that it's the right message and a good message and it's worthwhile."

Tim Murray, Bryan's nephew, his former assistant GM in Ottawa and now the GM of the Buffalo Sabres, said last week he scheduled a colonoscopy.

Beyond the awareness issue, Murray is putting on a brave face.

"We live our lives," Murray said. "I go to the hospital, I see young people, young mothers and young children and if I can't be strong and brave, how can they be? I think that that's also a message that I am what I am, it is the way it is right now and there's no sense in hiding it."

Murray will have chemotherapy Wednesday. He said doctors have been good to let him almost "self-schedule" appointments around his work with the Senators.

Assistant GMs Pierre Dorion and Randy Lee have been doing more travelling and scouting to help Murray out, but the longtime hockey man doesn't want to leave his duties because he has cancer.

"I'm old enough to retire, my wife has told me that for the last four or five years, and she's right," Murray said. "To be involved and active, I think is important, and for me to go home and sit on the couch doesn't make a lot of sense to me, so I'm not going to do that.

"Eugene (Melnyk) has been very strong and involved with me and anything and everything as normal. I think that that's the way I want to operate right now."

Murray hopes to operate like this as long as possible. Even while discussing his health, he made sure to bring the conversation to the Senators and their performance on the ice, now and in the future.

"This is not the end of anything other than we hope that we win some games in Ottawa this year and get some recognition come playoff time that we're a contending team," Murray said.

Murray is signed through the 2015-16 season after getting an extension in January. But he's not ready to think about next season.

"That's depending on how it goes here and how I feel," Murray said. "I think that there's a time when I'll retire, but I see a lot of young guys coming up in our organization and I'd like to be around as they play better and better and grow up."

Murray's colleagues were glad to see him at Tuesday's meeting but didn't make any point to recognize it. He was one of 30 GMs in the room, as always.

"Bryan was terrific today, his participation today was no different than it's ever been," Lou Lamoriello of the New Jersey Devils said.

Stan Bowman of the Chicago Blackhawks, who had Hodgkin's lymphoma seven years ago, said it's important to stay positive.

"We all support him," Bowman said. "Whether it's personal or friends or family, it's one of the universal things in life and you have to battle through it."

Murray said hockey colleagues have been very supportive.

"Sometimes I feel guilty I can't respond to them all as quickly as I'd like to," Murray said. "I try to do that and I will try to continue to do that."

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