Former defenseman Larry Murphy
is one of a handful of Kings draft selections over the years who ended up in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately for the Kings, the bulk of Murphy’s on-ice work was not with his original club.
Murphy played four seasons in Los Angeles en route to a sparkling NHL career which spanned from 1980-01 as he became one of the game’s top rearguards of all-time.
He recently answered these questions from LAKings.com as we continue to profile former players as part of this our 50th Anniversary celebration.
Q: Growing up in Canada and being drafted 4th overall out of juniors, what were your initial thoughts of going to play hockey in Los Angeles?
Murphy: Well at that time I wasn’t overly familiar with the Kings. The coverage of hockey is nothing like it is today so I had only seen LA play in the previous three or four seasons maybe twice, three times, that’s it. I mean if they weren’t on Hockey Night in Canada, I didn’t see them. So I was going to a team I wasn’t very familiar with, of course, going to Los Angeles where I’ve never been before, so I was… it wasn’t the traditional hockey market, so I was… I didn’t know what to expect and when I did eventually get here, I’ll never forget the… just so different, the ride from the airport, I was staying at the Airport Park Hotel, I think it’s long gone now, right beside The Forum, I remember that ride from the airport to the hotel and just thinking, I’m staring out the window just amazed at what I was seeing, so it was a lot of new coming here, that’s for sure.
Q: Talk about the transition from juniors to the NHL as a 19-year-old.
Murphy: I didn’t know if I was ready or not, I didn’t know what to… in terms of playing. When I got to camp, I didn’t know what to expect, you know, my attitude was just going to be to try my best, you know, because it’s what everybody does. But I felt early on that I could play, I could fit in, so, I felt I came along pretty quick and I felt like quite early in the process I felt I know I could play at this level so that was… that came quickly and of course as a player, you know, kept developing years afterward, but I knew right at, you know, even when I was 19 I knew I could play.
Q: Talk about your teammates, and playing with the Triple Crown Line of Dionne, Taylor, and Simmer. Did any one player mentor you or help you grow early on as a professional?
Murphy: Yeah I mean the Triple Crown Line stood out, I mean that was… for me I mean it was a case of I played a lot with them, especially power play and things along those lines it really helped in terms of production, offensive production, and I was very fortunate with that but in terms of guys, I mean we had a veteran team... in terms of mentor, you know, different things from different people. Dave Lewis was my defense partner the majority of the year, he probably, you spent sitting on the bench with him, you know, I probably learned more from him than anybody else just by the fact that we were playing together and through observation the way he played, and plus he was always willing to help, if he saw something he’d say it to me or if I had a question he’d be more than happy to answer it, so Dave Lewis probably stuck out the most but we… like Mike Murphy was the captain, he was great, and he was a real positive influence, like if things were going rough during the season, I really hadn’t been involved in such a long, grinding season and, you know different points things would… you feel like you’re struggling and he was, he was always there to kind of pick you up, so to speak, and get you back on track.
Q: Was there any one moment that stood out to you as your favorite memory of your career with the Kings?
Murphy: It’s a collection of moments I would say, there’s different, the first game I played in of course stands out, I mean in the sense of I’m in the NHL, I made it, you know, it was a childhood dream, you know that, being in LA I remember playing on the road, different buildings really stuck out, I remember when I… I started one game, and I don’t know if this is so much because of the Kings more so then who we were playing, we were at the Montreal Forum and I was starting the game, so I lined up on the blue line for the national anthems and looked down and there’s Guy LeFleur down there and Bob Gainey, Larry Robinson, all these big name, hall of fame guys, and I’m so nervous that, you know, they’re singing the U.S. and the Canadian national anthem and I could feel my legs shaking, and I remember saying to myself, just don’t fall down. I mean I’ve never had that moment in my life where I was just so nervous, I could feel myself shaking, I’m worried that my legs are going to give out and down I go, so that’s more of an NHL story but it all happened with the Kings. I think the most memorable was the Miracle on Manchester; it is probably the highest point while I was here with LA. We had good teams, my first year we had a real good team, but we lost out in the first round and that was a disappointment. Also it was great in my first season to set the rookie record for points and assists. That was something from my time there.
Q: Overall, you had an extremely successful playing career, holding many NHL records for a defenseman at the time you retired, and culminating in being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004. Talk about being in the record books next to players like Bourque, Coffey, Orr, Stevens, and others.
Murphy: Well it was an affirmation, it’s an incredible honor, and it’s something that I would honestly believe. I went in in ’04 and it’s been years and it feels like with time it just becomes more and more special. Affirmation is a big one, it’s a stamp saying you’ve had a highly successful career by your peers, they’re saying that, so that’s a tremendous amount of pride, the event was fantastic. I’m glad, I mean, to this day it’s like a badge of honor that I get to wear.
Q: After your playing career ended, you started broadcasting for the Red Wings. What inspired you to start your broadcasting career?
Murphy: Well I wasn’t really looking for it initially. I retired and I got a call if I wanted to do it, if I wanted to work with Fox Sports and I initially said no I couldn’t because my dad was quite ill and actually spent the season after I retired with him in Canada. He passed away and then the next year they asked me again and I said yeah I’ll do it, you know, let’s see what it’s all about, see if I enjoy it. And I enjoyed it. It was nice to be part of the game, nice to go to all the buildings and a chance to obviously give your opinion on things, it’s a way to do that, it was, the job was… took a lot more work than I thought it would. I mean it’s a lot of homework too, a lot of reading, a lot of keeping up on things. That was a bit of a surprise but I didn’t mind, I enjoyed it and I stuck with it.
Q: Has your perspective of the game changed from going from the ice to the broadcast booth?
Murphy: It’s a much easier game in the press box, looking down at it and you look at it and you think it’s pretty obvious why that player did this, or why did that player do that, and you have to be careful about that because I remember being down on the ice things happen so much faster that. Hockey’s a game of mistakes, every game there’s a thousand mistakes that are made and I just try to keep my head on straight and just not get caught, I never tried to get caught up on hammering on mistakes or you had to point it out, of course your job is to describe why it happened or what a player was thinking so that was always, my approach was I always tried to give insight into this is what he made that decision based on and this is what he saw and why he did what he did.