When the Blackhawks celebrate Hockey Fights Cancer night at the United Center tonight, fans will be encouraged to fill out their “I Fight For…” signs. Everyone has been touched by cancer in one way or another — myself included. And one member of the Blackhawks family has been fighting and will see his name on a lot of those signs this evening.
Troy Murray is one of the greatest class acts in the entire NHL. He is always a joy to speak with and has done a terrific job on both the radio and, now, television broadcasts of the game. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it means to be able to talk puck with him at the rink around practices or before games.
But lots of younger fans don’t remember Troy as the original badass No. 19 center from the University of North Dakota.
The Blackhawks selected Murray in the third round (No. 57 overall) in the 1980 NHL Draft — a draft class that shaped Blackhawks hockey in the 1980s. Chicago also drafted Denis Savard, Steve Ludzik, Carey Wilson and Steve Larmer that year.
Three players from that draft class appeared in at least 900 regular-season NHL games: Savard, Larmer and Murray.
After two really good seasons at North Dakota, Troy joined the Blackhawks for the playoffs after the 1981-82 season. Right out of college he appeared in seven playoff games and scored his first NHL goal. He made an instant impact.
Impact was what Troy Murray was all about.
He spent the first ten seasons of his career in Chicago. At the end of the 1985-86 season he became the first Blackhawks skater to win the Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward. Not only was he a defensive stalwart that year, but he was a stud on the other end of the ice, too; Troy scored 45 goals with 54 assists. His 99 points were the most by any player to win the Selke in the first 15 years the league handed out the award (Doug Gilmore had 127 for the Leafs in 1992-93).
In the summer of 1991 the Blackhawks traded Murray to the Jets (with Warren Rychel) for Bryan Marchment and Chris Norton. Marchment, of course, was later traded with Larmer, but let’s get back to Troy.
Winnipeg traded Troy back to the Blackhawks at the deadline in 1993 for Steve Bancroft, but that wasn’t the end of the Troy Murray-Winnipeg-Chicago transaction list. The Hawks sent him back to the Jets at the deadline in 1994 for everyone’s favorite asset, “future considerations.”
Murray finished his playing career raising the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996.
He scored 230 goals and added 354 assists in 914 regular-season games, 688 of which came with the Blackhawks.
For fans over the age of 40, his connection to Jonathan Toews — No. 19, North Dakota, the Selke — is on point because they brought intensity and leadership to the ice every night. For fans of any age today, Troy has brought wit and a masters-level mind for the game to Blackhawks broadcasts.
We’re very lucky to have Troy Murray in the Blackhawks family. And here’s hoping we can enjoy him being part of the fan experience in Chicago for a long time to come.