Wednesday

Gord Murphy

Gord Murphy played 14 NHL seasons and over 900 games including playoffs. But I always thought Murphy never got any recognition as a solid NHL defenseman.

A lot of that probably has to do with his playing in absolute obscurity in Florida. Especially after the veteran Murphy helped rookie Robert Svehla mature into the offensive dman's role, allowing Murph to concentrate on the defensive side of the game.

Gord Murphy was a very late draft pick, 9th round, 189th overall, out of the Oshawa Generals organization. The fact that any player drafted that low would play a single game in the NHL is impressive. Murphy played 14 seasons, and scored 85 goals and 323 points.

Murphy first debuted in the 1988-89 season and soon was scoring goals in double digits and accumulating over 40 points - not bad numbers at all for a young defenseman in any era.

After three seasons he was moved Boston for veteran Garry Galley and a young Wes Walz. Somehow Murphy struggled in Beantown, allowing for his exposure to the 1993 NHL expansion draft.

The Panthers were quick to snap up the young defenseman in the expansion draft. He would resuscitate his career in Florida, becoming a main stay on the Miami blue line for the rest of the decade. He later rounded off his career with a brief stop in Atlanta and another stop, even briefer, in Boston.

Gord Murphy was a finesse defenseman. Despite his good size (6'2" 200lbs) he played a small game, never throwing his weight around or punishing anyone physically. He was far more reliant on positioning, a very effective poke check and pushing or wrapping his arms around his check than to hit them. Perhaps it was his lack of perceived toughness that did not endure him to fans or media. But he was a versatile defender, well suited to play next to either an offensive rearguard or a big, hard hitting partner.

Being a finesse player at heart allowed him to be a solid two way defenseman. He was a strong and agile skater. He moved the puck well, either by carrying it out of the zone or with a safe breakout pass. He could eat up minutes on specialty team units.

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