By Mike Harrington
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- New Sabres GM Tim Murray is on his first road trip with the team, starting tonight in Nationwide Arena and I just had a good update chat with him in the press box prior to warmups for the game against the Blue Jackets. We talked about a lot of topics for just 10 minutes time but I know what most of you want to ask. So here's the answer on pending UFAs Ryan Miller, Steve Ott and Matt Moulson:
Murray has talked to all of them casually. He's getting a lot of "introductory" calls from other GMs but he's had the same message to each player.
"I've told them the same thing really and it was like, 'It's unfortunate you're going to see your name in the paper. That's just the nature of the game.' They're not young players. They've been around. They know the game. They know that this is part of it.
"I told them not to believe everything they read or everything they've heard on the sports channels. But certainly their names are in play and we'll see what happens but it doesn't guarantee they'll be moved at all. For me, it's all about return. These are good players. So if the return was up to a certain point and not great and we then decide we want to talk to them about staying, then that's an option too."
Murray said he's now at least informally met every player on the team. He said he grabbed a coffee and hung around this afternoon in the trainers' room after the pregame skate and made himself available.
"Just a different thing," he said. "Different personalites take advantage of that. Some don't. I talked to a couple players one on one and really about anything but hockey. Just looking to get a feel for them and I think we have some good people here."
More quick snippets from the conversation -- and be sure to read our story in Sunday's editions for the full gamut of his thoughts:
---Murray will stay with the Sabres until the Olympic break and then head back on the road to do more scouting. "I definitely have to go see the very top amateur guys. There's no question about that. There's lots of time to do it."
---He likes the effort of the team under Ted Nolan, results notwithstanding. "I said today to somebody that you interact with the players especially now on the road and the players have a smile on their face. They're happier with the way it's going. Obviously, they want to win but they're happy to come to the rink as far as effort and a team game and some structure. They're enjoying getting ready to play."
---Murray said there's no deadline on further discussing Nolan's status as interim coach: "We judge every day. It's not an end-of-the-year thing. Maybe it happens before that. Like i said, it looks like our players are happy comign to the rink and you judge that every day."
---Murray said he drove from Quebec and arrived in Buffalo Tuesday. He has moved into a downtown condominium.