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McCagg: Shawville will never be the same without Bryan Murray

It was 17 years ago that, for the first time, I contacted Bryan Murray to write a feature on him for a monthly hockey newspaper I was publishing in the Ottawa Valley. It was summertime, and the easiest way to reach him was at his cottage in Johnson Lake, near Ladysmith, Que., about 25 kilometres north of our hometown of Shawville.

It was a nervous phone call for me; my parents were from Shawville and I was born at the local hospital but I grew up in Renfrew and Pembroke, and had never met the man I considered to be Shawville’s hockey legend. Maybe for the previous generation, it was Frank Finnigan, but for me, Bryan Murray was THE guy, the Valley boy who had overcome the odds and made it to the pinnacle of success.

General manager of an NHL hockey team — are you kidding me? That was something I only dreamed about.

Bryan could not have been more gracious when I asked him if he may be available for an interview, inviting me up to his cottage the following week for a chat.

That first meeting was unforgettable. I have queried many people involved in hockey over the past 33 years, but never before or since have I come across a better interview. To say he was forthright would be a disservice; he was a quote machine.

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