Zizing ‘Em Up: Murphy retires after 50 years as a player, coach and executive
TORONTO– Mike Murphy is about to close the book on his long and exemplary NHL career.
On Dec. 31, the NHL’s vice president of hockey operations will work his final official shift in the league’s war room in Toronto, overseeing and overseeing any required video reviews of the 12 games on Cap d ‘Year.
Once the final horn sounds on the final game, he will retire, leaving behind a hockey career as a player, coach and league executive that spanned more than 50 years.
“It’s been an amazing run,” Murphy said. “I signed my first contract when I was 19 and came into the League in 1971. Now I’m 72 and an NHL team or the League has paid me to live a dream for so many years.
“It’s just time. The list is too long. If I don’t stop now and start doing things for the family, you know what happens. You look at the deaths of Guy Lafleur, Peter McNab, Mike Bossy and you you realize it’s time to go do other things.”
Murphy accumulated 556 points (238 goals, 318 assists) in 831 regular season games as a forward for the St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings from 1972 to 1983. He coached the Kings from 1986-88 and the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1996-98. He was an assistant coach with the Rangers, Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators.
He said he’s been grateful to work for the NHL for the past 23 years and said it’s been an enriching career, even though he and his team in the war room are often criticized by outsiders for decisions taken there
“The goal is to always do well,” he said. “Our best nights are when no one mentions the war room because that means everything is going well.”
Kris King, the NHL’s senior vice president of hockey operations, said Murphy will be missed.
“He’s like the veteran in the war room who keeps everyone calm and on time, even though he’s the one who often has to deal with irate coaches or GMs on the phone,” King said. “He’s a special person.”
There is no argument here. All the best in retirement, Murph.
DAMN DECISION DRAFT FINALLY PAYING DIVIDENDS
About an hour after the New Jersey Devils won the No. 1 pick in the 2017 Draft Lottery, then-GM Ray Shero sat down at a table with a couple of fellow GMs and a reporter at a Toronto watering hole. He wrote a name on a piece of paper.
“That’s what we’re taking,” he said wryly.
It turns out that Shero was playing with us.
I was mirroring a scene from the 2014 movie Draft Day when the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, played by Kevin Costner, wrote down the name of the player he was going to take before the NFL Draft.
Linebacker Vonte Mack. Shero wrote the same name.
Shero had a good laugh at our expense. He took the same out of the Devils staff as the draft approached. He was actually quite secretive about who his choice would be.
In the end, the Devils took center stage Nico Hischier. The Philadelphia Flyers selected forward Nolan Patrick number 2; the Dallas Stars picked up a defenseman I look at Heiskanen third; and the Colorado Avalanche eagerly snapped up the defenseman Cale Makar fourth
The Devils took some heat for the pick, especially for passing on Makar, who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.
New Jersey’s patience with Hischier’s development is paying dividends. The 23-year-old captains the Devils and is enjoying a breakout season with 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 17 games.
New Jersey has won 12 straight games and can tie the franchise record, set in 2001, against the Oilers on Monday (7 p.m. ET; MSGSN, SNOL, ESPN+, SN NOW).
“Hindsight 50-50 right? Everybody’s right when they come back,” Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said. “You always hear people say ‘Oh, we would have taken Makar.’ Well, at that time we wanted to build our team from the center position, a couple of years later we were lucky enough to get the first overall pick again and we took Jack Hughes. Now we are happy where we are at the halfway point. It was like when I was in the Pittsburgh Penguins front office in 2007 and we inherited Sidney Crosby i Evgeni Malkin.
“We always knew Nico had offensive ability. But it’s his care and drive to be a 200-foot center that sets him apart. One day he’ll win a Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward.”
Fitzgerald, the Devils’ assistant general manager when Hischier was drafted, was promoted when Shero was fired on January 12, 2020. Now, nearly three years later, Shero’s bet on Hischier, his version of Vonte Mack , is paying off.
THE PRINCIPLE OF ASSUME
After riding the rollercoaster early in his young career, Carter HartHe seems to be coming of age.
The Philadelphia Flyers goaltender has struggled the past two seasons with a combined 22-35-12 record and less-than-ideal goals-against averages (3.67 in 2020-21; 3.16 in 2021-22). It’s the kind of adversity often faced by goaltenders who start playing NHL games in their 20s, as Hart did.
But the 24-year-old appears to have found his game in his first 13 starts of the 2022-23 season. He is 6-3-4 with a 2.65 GAA and a .922 save percentage. He has all but one of the Flyers’ wins (7-7-4).
Chuck Fletcher thinks he knows why.
“It starts with practice,” the Flyers general manager said. “In my eyes, he’s worked harder in practice. He’s been more competitive in practice. Just his professionalism, his preparation, his mentality, it seems like they’re on a higher level this year.
“He’s 24 now. He’s been in the League for a while. So, like any young player, as he gains confidence, he gains experience, his game grows and develops.”
HUGHES, CANADIANS WHO STICK TO “THE PLAN”
There is a belief that Thanksgiving, which is Thursday, is the first barometer of where a team is in its quest to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Montreal Canadiens (9-8-1), who have surprised their rabid fans with a competitive start to the season, will be on the sidelines watching Thursday.
Even if they make a run, general manager Kent Hughes said don’t expect them to be buyers on the trade market to squeeze into the postseason.
“It’s November, so we’re putting those decisions off until a point in time when they need to be made,” Hughes said. “But I always think there’s a big picture. We can’t make a decision on such a narrow view that we’re only concerned with this particular season.
“Some teams are at different points. If we’re talking about Boston or Pittsburgh, they’ve had their core group together for a long time and they can feel it’s their window to win and we have to go get it. But where are we . as an organization, we are facing a window that is more for the future than now.”
“No. I met Ryan Reynolds so (laughs) … Sometimes they say you shouldn’t meet your idols by your perception of them. (But) he was taller than expected. And so nice. And he likes hockey. It was only five minutes, but he really impressed me.”
— Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion, when asked if the ongoing sale process of the team is affecting his work. Reynolds, the Vancouver-born actor, has publicly stated that he is interested in buying the Senators if he can find partners.
New Jersey Devils coach Lindy Ruff has seen many surprising, sometimes outlandish, events over the years, but for the crowd at the Prudential Center to chant “Sorry Lindy” several weeks after lamenting “Fire Lindy” was a novelty for him With that in mind, Ruff recalled some of the most interesting situations he’s experienced in his 25-year coaching career.
1. Beer Cheer: “After winning in Philly one year while coaching the [Buffalo] Sabres, I got hit in the side of the head with a beer glass after beating Philly in six games. But that’s just fans being fans.”
2. Logo regrets: The mid-2000s Sabers wore a controversial jersey with a logo that disgruntled Buffalo fans called “Buffa-slug” because of its resemblance to a slug. “The shirt we used this term was a bit out there and got a lot of criticism, but it turned out to be one of our most successful.” Buffalo wore these jerseys during their run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2007.
3. Pain in the cup: “One of the weirdest things I ever experienced was when I was coaching the Sabers and Brian Campbell shot the puck over the glass and Carolina scored the game-winning goal with it in the box in Game 7 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Finals. That 2005-06 team was so good. But when we got to that game, four of our top six defensemen were injured. Then Brian. When it rains, it rains.” .
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