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No word for Murray

Published Oct. 2, 2005

Agent Robin Burns thought Terry Murray was a candidate to become coach of the Lightning.

If Murray has no shot at the job, Burns wants to know. If he does, Burns would like to move talks along.

"I don't want this to come across as tactless, but I must say, I am perplexed. It's very strange, I must say," Burns said Monday of his negotiations with general manager Phil Esposito, which have consisted of one phone call Friday and a promise of more talk. "I would only hope that if Phil has no interest in hiring Terry, that he would notify us very quickly."

Burns said he discussed details of a potential contract with Esposito on Friday and suggested he was under the impression Murray, the former Washington and Philadelphia coach, was the Lightning's choice if an agreement could be reached.

"I thought when he offered Terry something on Friday that we would continue discussions, but I gather that's not going to happen. That's very strange," said Burns, who would not confirm details of a supposed four-year, $2-million proposal. "We talked preliminary discussions on the deal, and he said that he'd get back to us. He did not call Sunday, and now it is 4 o'clock (Monday), and I've not heard from him. It is not like he does not know my numbers."

Told that Esposito's comment Saturday on the Murray talks was "Just because I might agree to terms with someone does not mean that person will be offered the job," Burns was baffled.

"I'm not sure, but that's probably the strangest negotiating statement I've heard in a long time," said Burns, a former NHL player who is president of ITECH, a Montreal hockey equipment company. Burns also moonlights as an agent for NHL coaches. In addition to Murray he represents former Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan, who withdrew from consideration from the Lightning job after Esposito had talks with Burns about him.

"(This) would be the strangest negotiation I've been through ever, either in business or in pro sports," Burns added. "But I guess you can say you learn new things every day."

Esposito planned to speak with Burns on Sunday but did not. Asked Sunday night if he intended to talk with Burns on Monday, his answer was "Maybe."

Esposito spent Monday at a general managers meeting in Dallas, where he was to talk with former bosses of Murray and another finalist for the job, former Los Angeles Kings coach Barry Melrose.

Burns, amid speculation the job will go to Lightning interim coach Rick Paterson, said he hopes Esposito intends to resume Murray talks soon.

"I'm not sure it's fair to a classy guy like Terry Murray to say we're in negotiations and then not really be negotiating," Burns said.

"It's a very different way to negotiate. But I don't think it's not being done in good faith. I just think Phil is trying to sit down with his superiors to hopefully sell them on the idea of Terry Murray with a little better compensation package and better terms. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and say he is working very hard to get Terry as coach."