Murray trade a wake-up call to sinking Sharks

Monday, 03.25.2013 / 5:02 PM
Curtis Zupke  - Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- The San Jose Sharks fully understood the message that was sent Monday, although it was tough to accept on a personal level.

Their downward spiral since a 7-0-0 start turned into tangible consequences with the trade of popular defenseman Douglas Murray to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Few players were surprised at the team's morning skate.

"It doesn't tell us anything in the room we don't know," Dan Boyle said. "We got to win or else guys go. There's nothing to learn from that other than what we know."

Said captain Joe Thornton, "Hopefully it sends a message. Dougie was one of my best friends. It's tough losing a guy like that, but we've kind of been in a funk so hopefully this kind of gets our attention and gets us playing a little bit better."

Thornton's first game with San Jose coincided with Murray's first game as a Shark. Boyle was Murray's defensive partner for much of the past two seasons and acknowledged it was difficult to see him go.

"He had a lot of heart," Boyle said. "I think everybody talks about his physical play. He had a huge heart and he always worked his (butt) off out there. Forwards in the East, if they don't know who he is, they're going to know shortly because he's got to be possibly the hardest hitter in the game.

"He was obviously was one of my closest friends here. It's tough. We had some good years together, obviously. I'm going to miss him."

Coach Todd McLellan called Murray "a very important guy in our locker room" who "gave everything to the organization" dating back to his development in Worcester of the American Hockey League. His immediate task was to see how his team responds and adjusts without Murray, starting Monday against the Anaheim Ducks.

"He's had a long tie to our Shark family," McLellan said. "But we're professionals. The group in there has a job to do. They have to be prepared to play against an elite team, and I fully expect them to be those professionals and come to the rink and get prepared to play. The move opens up some ice time and an opportunity for guys that have been waiting, and if I'm one of those guys I'm so excited right now about getting out there and playing, proving that I can do it on a daily basis."

McLellan said the loss of Murray doesn't immediately change his thinking regarding Brent Burns as a forward.

"Not tonight," McLellan said.

For now, San Jose will lean on Justin Braun as one of their young defensemen to fill the void.

"It's been a long break, but I'm excited to get back in and hopefully play my game that I know I can," Braun said.

Braun said he could look at it as a vote of confidence in the team's young defensemen to go forward. Matt Irwin has developed this season, and Jason Demers will take on more responsibility.

"Matt has really stepped up this year and really done well in the lineup so far," Braun said. "[Demers] and I have had our struggles, but I think getting going again will be good for us."

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