Murphy excited to return to Prague with Blackhawks for NHL Global Series
Defenseman played at O2 Arena with United States at 2015 World Championshipsby Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer
Connor Murphy has a good idea of what to expect when the Chicago Blackhawks play the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2019 NHL Global Series at O2 Arena in Prague on Friday (2 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN360, NBCSP, NBCSCH, NHL.TV).
The 26-year-old defenseman played in O2 Arena with the United States during the 2015 IIHF World Championship, defeating the Czech Republic to win the bronze medal.
"It felt like an NHL atmosphere as far as the building, the fans and the entertainment of it from the players' side of it," Murphy said. "But it added in that European flair of the crowd, and that was exciting.
"They're always making noise and it's different. Where I think in North America, people are watching for a bit and when something happens, they'll start cheering, getting into it. But for them, it's just a different experience. For the fans, they're just chanting and singing and getting on you and they're very prideful about it."
Murphy said he imagines the experience will be similar on Friday, even if the dynamic of having two NHL teams play instead of two national teams is different.
"It'll be interesting to see," he said. "That was playing for your country, so cheering for their country, it may have been a little different. But I imagine they'll be into it [with us and Philadelphia] there, too."
In 2015, the United played its semifinal and bronze-medal game at O2 Arena while its other games were held at CEZ Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic, more than 200 miles east of Prague.
As a result, Murphy, who didn't have a point in 10 games in the tournament, didn't get much time to explore; the United States had only two days off, and one was a travel day.
He loved what he did see of Prague, though, and said he is looking forward to checking out the city more on this trip. The Blackhawks will depart for Prague on Monday after defeating Eisbaren Berlin, 3-1, in their final preseason game Sunday.
"You definitely have that historic feel and there are definitely a lot of tourists walking around compared to some of the small towns that we played in around there in the Czech Republic," Murphy said. "It's amazing, and a lot of guys would probably say that's their favorite part of Europe we've ever been to for the hockey side of it. We never really get to go to western Europe much. But it's definitely an amazing town and there's a lot going on. We were lucky to go there to play that game."
Murphy, who has played in five World Championships (2014-18), said while each opportunity has given him an insight into various parts of Europe, the tournaments have also allowed him to grow his game in the NHL.
During the 2014-15 season, his first full season in the NHL, Murphy, who was selected by the Phoenix Coyotes with the No. 20 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, had seven points (four goals, three assists) in 73 games. The following season, he set a then NHL career high with 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 78 games with Arizona.
Murphy was traded to Chicago for defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson on June 23, 2017, and in two seasons with the Blackhawks, he has 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) and a plus-9 rating in 128 games.
"It's just expanding your career in a different way and learning from different coaches and players, and you're trying to develop your game a little bit more outside of your team," Murphy said. "Specifically, the years I went, we hadn't finished well whether it was in Arizona or [Chicago], so it's nice to get that positive feeling of winning more, and playing for something, playing for a medal. It was fun to get that, and I definitely learned a lot throughout my career because of it."