The Secret Is Out
In his second stint in Boston, emerging star right wing Glen Murray has drawn comparisons to an alltime great
The name across the back of his black-and-gold sweater was the same, but when the Bruins acquired right wing Glen Murray from the Kings in October 2001, little else suggested that he was the same player Boston had drafted in 1991 and given up on four years later. The Murray who was shipped to the Penguins for wing Kevin Stevens in August '95 was an erratic shooter and a tentative skater who was often behind the play. "The NHL was too quick for me," Murray says of his first stint in Boston.
Now 30, Murray is quicker, stronger and more mature. Since returning to the Bruins with center Jozef Stumpel in the trade that sent center Jason Allison to Los Angeles, the 6'3", 225-pound Murray has become one of the best snipers in the NHL. Thanks to a lightning release and a wicked slap shot, he was one of five players with 40 or more goals last season (he had a career-high 41) and through Sunday was on pace to equal that total this year. (He had 30 goals, eighth in the league, and 65 points, the 11th-highest total.)
Last month Murray played in his first All-Star Game, and his style—he often darts in and out of the area between the circles-is drawing comparisons to hockey royalty. "The thing he does well is find open areas on the ice," says Flyers defenseman Eric Weinrich. "He's like Brett Hull."
"Not to take anything away from Brett Hull," says Bruins general manager Mike O'Connell, "but Glen is a more complete player."
Murray had two mediocre seasons in Pittsburgh but turned around his career after he was dealt to the Kings in 1997. He received consistent ice time with L.A. and scored 29 goals in '97-98 and again in 1999-2000. (A sprained right knee in '98-99 held him to 16 goals in 61 games.) "I learned defensemen's tendencies and how to find dead spots on the ice," he says.
His conditioning also improved, thanks to summer workouts at a gym in Venice, Calif., with a group of NHL players that included Rob Blake, Anson Carter and Chris Chelios. The regimen included weightlifting, running and beach volleyball, and all that work has helped Murray's stamina.
One other factor has favored Murray since his return to Boston: His development coincided with that of linemate Joe Thornton, who often dominates when he's on the ice. "The kicker for [ Murray] is the emergence of Thornton," says Panthers G.M. Rick Dudley. "When a player like Thornton emerges, then a player with the ability to score, like Murray, will get more opportunities."
Carolina's Miserable Season
From Champs To Chumps
One Western Conference scout who was assigned to keep tabs on the Hurricanes last spring remained unimpressed even as they scratched and clutched their way to the Eastern Conference championship. Carolina, he insisted, lacked overall firepower and depth at the blue line. "I thought they played over their heads," the scout says. "I looked silly when they made it to the Stanley Cup finals."