MONTREAL - If you're looking for Douglas Murray, you'll find him in Northern California.
The former Canadiens defenseman and Cornell grad, who spent the 2013-14 season in Montreal, is currently pursuing several business ventures in the Bay Area, one of which is serving as a consultant for the San Jose Sharks.
During our stay in Silicon Valley in March, we caught up with the 39-year-old Swede at the SAP Center to reminisce about his time with the Habs and learn more about his life after hockey.
In retrospect, what did you appreciate most about being a member of the Canadiens?
DOUGLAS MURRAY: Growing up with Djurgårdens IF, which is the most decorated championship team in Sweden, Montreal is just like that. In the end, though, I really appreciated the history part and the fans. That really resonated with me. My grandfather Lasse Björn was a big-time Swedish hockey player. He's in the IIHF Hall of Fame. He would've been the first Swede in the NHL, but he had two kids and ran a business back home because they didn't get paid to play hockey in Sweden. Growing up with that, I always had a huge respect for the history of the game and I think there's no doubt that the Montreal Canadiens have the richest history. That's what made it really special to wear the jersey and take part in that.
I had great teammates, too. It was really special playing with Carey Price. He has an unbelievable demeanor as a goaltender. He's one of the most valuable players you can ever play with. He was such a difference-maker for us, and just a great overall guy. George Parros was a friend of mine before, and I got to know him more. We lived in the same condo building there. We had separate condos, but it was almost like we lived together. That was great to get closer to him. He was a new guy, too, and I got to know his family a lot better. Brandon Prust was another guy I got along with. I also had a pretty close relationship with Josh Gorges. We played in the minors together and played on the Sharks early together. There were a ton of guys I had a good time with. Andrei Markov isn't the most social guy, but he's a very good and smart hockey player. I kind of enjoy that quiet personality. Then, there was Brendan Gallagher who was super competitive. There was a bunch of them.
What did you enjoy most about being a Montrealer, aside from suiting up at the Bell Centre, of course?
DM: I'm a big foodie, so I had a really good food experience there. I was pretty close with the guys that owned Bocata and Barroco restraurants in Old Montreal. They're great guys. They have Foiegwa now. I saw that on social media, so they're rocking and rolling. There's also Le Club Chasse et Pêche. I think Old Montreal, with the cobblestone and everything, had a good European feel to it a little bit. That made it special, along with a great group of guys.
You've been retired for a few years now. Tell us about life after hanging up your skates.
DM: Transition is tough for an athlete. The dangerous part is doing nothing, especially when you've had a schedule for a long time and you're constantly being challenged in life - in games as a player, competing against other guys, competing in the playoffs. Doing nothing kind of secretly drives you crazy. I came back here to San Jose, where I played for seven-and-a-half years. I have a lot of great friends here and a great relationship with the Sharks organization. I started out by consulting for a real estate developer - Lyon Living - and I was also around the team more and more. I love hockey, but I've always been very intrigued by business. I knew I wanted to do something in business, so instead of doing something traditional like management, coaching or scouting, I started doing business development for the real estate developer and consulting with the Sharks in a business development role within the organization. I'm also doing business development for a construction company - Skyline Construction. It's a big learning curve, but it's a been a great challenge and really fun to see that side of the business. When it comes to business, I like to be a positive and happy guy. I think it's good to keep it light. I always wanted to do business with a win-win mentality.
Can you expand a bit on your role with the Sharks?
DM: I'm also the President and Director of the Sharks Alumni Foundation. The alumni wasn't really organized out here, so I helped start it with a few other guys. It's been up and running for just over a year. It's purely charitable, giving back to the community that was so great to us as players. We're really focused on grants for underserved youth. We give out grants for participation costs and equipment costs. We actually cover all sports. At the end of the day, we're athletes. It's not just hockey players. Sports gives you a great foundation in life. That's been a ton of work. It's hard work, but it's very rewarding, too. I was also elected to the NHL Alumni Association's Board over the All-Star break in January. I'm starting to think that hockey was the easy part of life. I'm a fast mover. I like to go all-in. I pretty much only have one gear. I'm having a lot of fun with it. I'm not getting a ton of sleep these days, but I usually don't sleep much. (Laughs) I love taking on different challenges. Right now, I'm really in the hard-working stage, learning as much as possible. This is education for me, too. I went to college a long time ago.
Congratulations on your recent engagement! We also hear that you're going to be a dad soon…
DM: Thank you! I got engaged on February 1. Penny is a social media influencer in Sweden and she collaborates with different companies. We have a kid on the way, too, due August 22. It's full-throttle right now. I'm not really good at spacing things out. (Laughs) We don't know the sex of the baby. We're going Swedish style. If you would've asked me when I was 20, I probably would've told you that I would've been the youngest father among my friends. I needed a little time to mature, but it matures you in a hurry and you feel that sense of responsibility. You're viewing life a lot differently. I feel extremely ready for it. Most of my friends have kids already. I was 12 years old when my sister was born, so I babysat her. I always loved kids. I always loved being around kids. I'm very comfortable. I've got four nieces and nephews that I'm super tight with. To me, it feels very natural. It feels like it's supposed to be. It's going to be fun. I used to say that I wanted our baby to be like me, but it's going to be easier to look after this child if it takes after mom. (Laughs)
Celebrating in style
Murray was overjoyed to witness the Sharks' remarkable series-clinching victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night.
He took to Instagram to share his excitement with his followers and show his support for his good buddy, Joe Thornton.