Voorhees, NJ – Marty Murray wasted little time in getting back to his old stomping grounds.
After arriving in Philadelphia the night of Tuesday, August 29, Murray was already on the ice at the team's training facility in Voorhees, New Jersey the next morning at 9:00 am, skating with a group of current and former Flyers who are also in town preparing for their respective training camps.
"We just got in [Tuesday] night so we're just getting our bearings straight, but it's great to be back and see the guys and the training staff," said Murray. "It brings back some good memories. My wife and I certainly enjoyed our two years here and we're really happy to be back and are looking forward to a great year with the Flyers."
Murray spent two seasons with Philadelphia in 2001-02 and 2002-03. After spending most of his career prior to that bouncing between the NHL's Calgary Flames and AHL's Saint John Flames, Murray established himself as an NHL regular here in Philadelphia. Signing as a free agent in the summer of 2001, Murray played the first three games of that season with the Phantoms before hoping on a train from Bridgeport, Connecticut after being recalled, and never looked back.
After another season in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2003-04, he sat out in 2004-05 before playing last season in Germany.
In 242 career NHL games, Murray has a modest 31 goals and 40 assists – but is viewed now as a player that could really benefit from the new rules in the league, which have opened up the game.
"He's a small guy, but he's a very competitive guy, and he's got some quickness about him. So, that quickness and that skill I think are going to hold him in good stead," said Ken Hitchcock. "I think he's going to be able to get away from people that normally would have just grabbed a hold of him and held on."
"When it comes to quickness and cycling the puck, where guys can't get a hand on your stick, [the rules] will help smaller guys like myself," said Murray, who is listed at 5'9'' and 180 pounds. "But, it's still hockey and I'm going to go out there and play and work hard and hit the holes."
The year playing in Europe for the Hannover Scorpions could also benefit Murray this season in the NHL, said Hitchcock.
"When you come from Europe, there is the getting used to the size of the ice that is number one. But, sometimes players that go over there become better skaters so there is more confidence," said Hitchcock. "The trade-off is, probably from a skill standpoint, he is probably better than when he left but there will be some getting used to the smaller surface."
"I think you get a little older and a little more confidence in yourself which I think helps out," agreed Murray.
Another positive attribute that Murray brings to the team is his ability to play on any line or in any situation, according to Hitchcock, who quickly describes Murray with a one-word answer.
"Versatility. Marty can play up and down the lineup and not miss a beat," said Hitchcock. "He's a very intelligent player, and is smart with or without the puck. He can play on the power play, he can kill penalties, and he can play up on the top line for a short period of time."
Unlike the other newcomers to the Flyers lineup this season, many of which are coming to Philadelphia from West Coast clubs, Murray should have little time readjusting to the scene. Although there are few players left on the team from when he departed, the surroundings and environment at the Wachovia Center remain the same.
"There are a lot of familiar faces around here. There's a lot of changeover like there is on any team, but it's good to be back and I've heard we have a great group of guys here so I'm looking forward to spending some time with everybody," said Murray.
"I think the thing that helps is that he's used to the city, he's used to the atmosphere, and he's used to the intensity of playing in Philadelphia," added Hitchcock. "So, I think that's going to be good, because this is very much a hockey city and I think he's going to enjoy the atmosphere again."