DOUGLAS MURRAY WILL BATTLE TO REGAIN LOST SPEED AND CONDITIONINGAug 31st, 2013 | By reusch | Category: Canadiens, Latest News
Murray gained his reputation as one of most the reliable of NHL defenceman without possessing notable foot speed. By today’s standards Murray is in fact, slow. Then again, few 243 pounders possess gazelle-like grace.
But last season, for reasons we’ll try to go into here, “slow” became “slower” and because of it, although one of the most popular members of the San Jose Sharks, he was moved to the Pittsburgh Penguins for two second round draft picks at the trade deadline and then, clearly troubled by the state of Murray’s game, Pittsburgh made no effort to sign him.
Career over at the age of 33?
That seems premature for someone who, at least outwardly, seems sound of body. But there are those who would also argue that Murray’s decline is the result of his relentless 537 regular-season and playoff games during which he delivered 1,321 punishing hits and blocked 811 shots. That’s a heavy physical price to pay and it’s hard to disagree with them.
So then, why would Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin and his assistant Rick Dudley hold a different opinion? We can only be left to speculate.
To that end, we have to take you back to the 2011-2012 season. Things were going for Murray until December 11th when he broke his hand. He was to miss 23 of the season’s remaining 59 games with three separate injuries.
The broken hand caused him to miss ten. In February he deflected a Vincent Lecavalier pass right into his own throat breaking the cartilage in his Adam’s Apple (larynyx). That’s serious stuff. (Montrealers will remember Canadiens defenceman Trent McCleary who’s career ended after suffering a similar injury in 2000.) Typically Murray missed only six games and was again just getting into shape again when a groin injury caused him to miss four of the season’s final five games. The groin still was hobbling him as the Sharks were eliminated by St. Louis in five playoff games.
So for Murray, for the first time his career, the season was pretty much a write-off.
Murray’s situation didn’t improve when four months later the NHL dropped the lockout bomb. In an effort to return to some semblance of playing condition, Murray signed on his hometown Djurgårdens Stockholm team of the Swedish second division. Second division clubs in Sweden don’t hand out contracts anywhere near the level of the NHL and as a team investment in fitness programmes is nowhere near NHL level. Murray lasted fourteen games and returned to North America in early December where his main sighting was a Miami dinner date with Tiger Woods ex-wife. (“Just friends”, he says.) Where he was not seen was on the ice for any sustained period, so when the lockout was lifted and players were called in for the abbreviated one week training camp in early January Murray was out of shape.
Murray is a big guy. Correct that. Douglas Murray, at 243 pounds is a really big guy. And really big guys, without maintenance, can lose conditioning very quickly. Over a 12 month period when he should have been playing practicing on a regular basis, through injury and the lockout Murray lost 63 of a possible 100 games and most of his scheduled workout days. He started the season behind the fitness of his teammates and opponents and never caught up. He probably will tell you he should have done more to protect his conditioning last summer, but there were also mitigating circumstances.
It’s hard to dispute whichever side of the Murray argument one might want to assume. You can subscribe to the theory that Murray’s NHL career effectiveness has been taken away by the cummulative effect his relentless playing style or,you can argue that Murray’s decline can be blamed on injuries which sapped his conditioning and ultimately his speed. Obviously, the Canadiens will argue for the latter.
We’ll get our answer in the coming months.
The Douglas Murray Revision of Newton’s First Law of Motion