The Alaska Aces have named Rob Murray, former coach of the AHL's Providence Bruins, as their fourth head coach since becoming members of the ECHL. Murray takes over for Brent Thompson, who left the reigning Kelly Cup Champions following his second season behind the bench.
Murray has spent the last seven seasons in the Boston Bruins organization, all with the AHL affiliate in Providence. He served as an assistant coach from the 2003-04 season until the conclusion of the 2007-08 campaign, when he was promoted to head coach. Murray then guided the Bruins as head coach for three seasons, compiling a record of 117-103-20. He became available when his contract was not renewed following the 2010-11 season, when Providence finished 38-36-6.
While in Providence, Murray also coached forward Nate Thompson of Anchorage, now a member of the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning.
Murray has quite the legacy to live up to. Each of the Aces three previous head coaches in the ECHL era have taken the team to the Kelly Cup Finals.
"When you talk to people in the hockey world, regardless of NHL or AHL, the feedback you get is if you're going to be in the East Coast League to coach, this is the place to be," said Murray. "I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to come here."
Davis Payne led the Aces to their first ECHL title in 2006. He is now head coach of the NHL's St. Louis Blues. Keith McCambridge, the team captain for that initial championship season, took over for Payne, and under his leadership, the club made the ECHL finals in 2009. After McCambridge left to become an AHL assistant coach, Brent Thompson came in and promptly steered the Aces to their second Kelly Cup in his second season. Shortly after winning the title, Thompson also jumped to the AHL to coach the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
As a player, Murray accumulared 2,940 penalty minutes, the second most in AHL history. He was once teammates with current Aces forward Brian Swanson.
"He was a guy I looked up to every day to to learn how to be a professional," said Swanson. "I think we're very fortunate to have a coach like him"
The Aces, under Murray, begin defense of their Kelly Cup title in the 2011-12 season opener Friday, October 14 against the Las Vegas Wranglers.
Contact Kevin Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org