Murray came to realize it's not a criminal offense to spend a quiet night at home. "When you're young and single in the big city, you feel you're missing something if you're not out every night," says defenseman Doug Wilson, who had similar experiences earlier in his career. "It's something you grow out of."
Murray's emergence as an NHL star began last season, when he had 26 goals and 40 assists during the regular season and five goals and 14 assists in the playoffs before the Hawks were eliminated in the semifinals by Edmonton. In Game 3 of that series, Murray displayed his defensive prowess by shutting out Gretzky, the first time the Great One had gone pointless in 38 games.
Murray says of his performance this season, "It's been like a dream. It seems like everything is going in the net." Yet he tries to keep things in perspective. He understands the transitory nature of sports, and every off-season since turning pro he has returned to North Dakota and taken business classes. "It's going to take quite a few summers to get the diploma, but I'm going to do it," he says. "Things are going great for me now, but I've seen how quickly it can all end."
Murray learned that firsthand while sharing a town house last season in Elmhurst, a Chicago suburb, with teammates Dave Feamster and Ken Yaremchuk. Feamster had been diagnosed as having severe back problems in 1984, and was trying a comeback. "I remember all three of us would sit around eating breakfast, and then Kenny and I would get up to go to practice and Dave would just sit there. It was so sad to see," Murray says. "It was like his whole world had come tumbling down."
Feamster retired and is now in Pueblo, Colo. as a management trainee for Little Caesar's Pizza. But his experience left an indelible impression on Murray. "As soon as you're not with the team anymore, it's like you don't exist," says Murray. "I won't forget that."
Meanwhile, the NHL is only now learning who Troy Murray is. He's not Bob Murray, Hawks teammate and defenseman. Nor is he road roommate Murray—goalie Murray Bannerman, that is. "Let's not make a lot of noise about this," Troy said after he scored two goals against the Blues two weeks ago in Chicago. "Somebody might notice."
Somebody just might at that.