Most hockey offseasons, Rob Murray goes hunting players.
This time around, he went hunting a job.
The former Alaska Aces bench boss succeeded Wednesday, when the ECHL's Tulsa Oilers announced the former NHL center as their new head coach and director of hockey operations.
Murray, 50, replaces Jason Christie, the ECHL's all-time wins leader, who resigned after two seasons in Oklahoma and recently became head coach of the league's Jacksonville (Florida) IceMen.
Murray coached the Aces for six seasons and guided them to the 2014 Kelly Cup, the third in franchise history, and three consecutive Brabham Cups (2012-14) as regular-season champs. The Aces in April folded after 14 ECHL seasons, citing deep financial losses.
"I wanted to stay in the game of hockey," Murray said. "I want to continue to coach. I feel very confident after my six years here. I know the league, I know the administrative side. I know how to do this."
The Aces went 231-150-50 (.594 winning percentage) in Murray's six seasons. He was voted co-winner of the ECHL's 2012 John Brophy Award as Coach of the Year.
In Tulsa, Murray, who prior to his Aces tenure was head coach of the American Hockey League's Providence Bruins, will work under general manager Taylor Hall. The Oilers have failed to qualify for the playoffs in each of the past two seasons. The Aces did not make the playoffs in their last three seasons.
Murray said he's excited for this new challenge.
"I'm thrilled that I have another opportunity to have a job in the ECHL," Murray said. "Taylor Hall and the owners have been very good to me to bring me on-board.
"I definitely want to help this team, one, be a playoff team, and two, move on from there and get to where we all want in this game, to win a championship."
Hall in a news release said Murray's experience made him an attractive candidate.
"Rob is a proven winner who has had success in both the ECHL and AHL," said Hall. "We are thrilled to have him here in Tulsa and feel he will provide the necessary leadership to make us a playoff contender every year."
Murray began his coaching career as an assistant for the Providence Bruins in 2003 after wrapping a 16-year pro career. He played 116 combined regular-season and playoff games in the NHL and more than 1,100 combined games in the AHL, where he captained several teams.
The AHL earlier this year inducted Murray into its Hall of Fame. Murray played eight seasons for the AHL's Springfield (Massachusetts) Falcons, who retired his No. 23.
Around the rinks
Former Aces winger Alex Belzile and former Aces goaltender Lukas Hafner helped the Colorado Eagles to the Kelly Cup earlier this week, when the Eagles completed a sweep of the South Carolina Stingrays.
Belzile, who won a Cup with the Aces in 2014, led playoff scorers in goals and points with 14-12—26 and plus-12 totals in 18 games. Hafner, a rookie, went 14-2 with a 2.43 goals-against average and .903 save percentage.
Former Aces winger Olivier Archambault was tied for second in goals and third in points for South Carolina in the playoffs with 7-10—17 and plus-2 totals in 22 games.
Longtime Aces center Tim Coffman recently signed with Zvolen in Slovakia. Coffman, who played four seasons in Anchorage, last season delivered career-highs in all categories with 26-37—63 totals in 72 games. This will be Coffman's second gig in Europe — he played his first season as a pro in the Netherlands.