Defenseman Larry Murphy was a key component of the Washington Capitals during the 1980s, and while he was an integral part of the team’s success in those years, he also recognized the importance of the Capitals franchise and how it helped him develop as a player.
Murphy was drafted in the first round, fourth overall, by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. He spent three full seasons with the Kings before arriving in Washington early in the 1983-84 season.
“It was my first time being traded,” recalled Murphy. “I didn’t know what to expect.
“I knew the team was playing well and I was being traded to a good team, so I took it all in and was ready to experience something new.”
Murphy spent six seasons with the Capitals, recording 344 points (85 goals, 259 assists) in 453 games. He currently stands 16th in franchise history in scoring, and led the team during the 1986-87 season in both points (81) and assists (58). Along with Kevin Hatcher, Murphy is one of only two defensemen ever to lead the Capitals in scoring.
“I took a lot of pride in that [leading scoring],” stated Murphy. “It was probably my greatest moment as a Capital.”
Playing for Washington came at an important time in Murphy’s career. After only being in the league for three seasons, Murphy used his time in Washington to learn his position and develop his game.
“It was a critical point in my career to learn the position,” recalled Murphy. “I learned how to play the position there.
“We never won a [Stanley] Cup but I looked at it as a place I grew [as a player].”
During his time in Washington Murphy was a part of five playoff teams, but never advanced past the second round. He knew they always had a chance to go deep in the playoffs, but recalled no matter how the team did during the post-season, it was always good to play on a team that did well.
Even though Murphy never hoisted the Stanley Cup as a player in Washington, he would have that opportunity later in his career. Murphy was a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins squad who captured the title in 1991.
“It was an incredible experience,” recalled Murphy. “You don’t realize how special it is. You always want the opportunity to carry the Cup around the ice, and after I did I realized how special it was.”
He was a part of that special experience three more times in his career—again in Pittsburgh in 1992 and twice with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. He is the only NHL player to win back-to-back Stanley Cup titles with two different franchises.
“The timing [in Pittsburgh] was good, and it was also good from Pittsburgh to Detroit,” stated Murphy. “It’s difficult to win one, and winning back-to-back takes good talent and good play.”
Murphy played for six NHL teams in his 21-year career. He retired in 2001 with 1,615 career NHL games, at the time the most career games by a defenseman.
“My whole logic going into the NHL, I was [just] happy to be there,” recalled Murphy. “I took it one game at a time. I didn’t expect to play 21 seasons, it just piled up.
“I took tremendous pride that I was able to hang in there as long as I could.”
Hockey Hall of Fame honors came Murphy’s way in 2004, alongside fellow NHL defenseman Ray Bourque and Paul Coffey. Murphy retired with 1,216 career points, the fifth-highest scoring defenseman in NHL history, trailing his fellow inductees Bourque and Coffey, in addition to Al MacInnis and Phil Housley.
“I’ll never forget that moment of being inducted,” recalled Murphy. “Looking at the players in the hall and being included among them it was a tremendous honor.
“It’s a stamp on your career saying you’ve accomplished quite an amount. I cherish it.”
After his retirement, Murphy worked as an analyst for Fox Sports Detroit and is currently working for the NHL Network as a television personality.
“It wasn’t something I was planning on doing, but I enjoyed doing it and it worked out,” stated Murphy. “It’s a challenge; you have to think on your feet, I enjoy it.”