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Hockey Fights Cancer

Murray discusses cancer treatment in Q&A

Blackhawks radio analyst tells about Chicago's support, Hockey Fights Cancer night

by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / Staff Writer

Troy Murray said he wants to be back in the broadcast booth as soon as he can.

The Chicago Blackhawks radio analyst was diagnosed with cancer on Aug. 9 and has had chemotherapy every other week since late summer.

"I want to get back, but I need to get some strength," Murray said on Friday. "The Blackhawks, (vice president of communications) Adam Rogowin has been tremendous, (senior director of media relations) John Steinmiller and (media relations manager) Will Chukerman have been great, and they've said whatever works for me, whether it's a period to start with, whatever I can do, they're 100 percent on board. 

"To me, broadcasting for 20 years, it's been a big part of my life. Now all of a sudden when you don't have that opportunity to do what you love, because I don't consider it a job, it's my passion, it is a big goal of mine to get back into the booth and do some broadcasting. I don't know how travel would work out with me at this point, but certainly it would mean a lot to me to get back in the booth and be working with John Weidemann again as soon as I can."

The 59-year-old will be at United Center for the ceremonial puck drop when the Blackhawks host Hockey Fights Cancer night against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSH, NBCSCA, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). Devin Pittges, a 15-year-old from Niles, Illinois, who is in remission after his fight against osteosarcoma, will join Murray for the puck drop.

Hockey Fights Cancer is a joint initiative between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association that unites the hockey community in support of cancer patients and their families.

On Friday, Murray, a former center who played 15 NHL seasons, including 10 with Chicago, spoke with about his fight against cancer, daily life and the salute he received from Blackhawks players last month. 

What will it mean for you to be at United Center on Sunday for Hockey Fights Cancer night?

"It's a special honor for all the wrong reasons, and I don't mean that lightly. Everybody would much rather be in a different situation than being a part of Hockey Fights Cancer night, but at the same time it will mean a lot to me. But I don't look at it as something that's for me. I look at it as, I'm representing and am proud to represent everybody who is going through the same thing, who has dealt with cancer, families, everybody is affected by it. I feel honored that I'm representing those people in the big picture. But it is special that I have that opportunity to be a part of Hockey Fights Cancer Night."

Video: SJS@CHI: Blackhawks drop the puck on HFC night

When you visited United Center for the first time this season on Oct. 21, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews gathered the players on the ice for a stick-tap salute to you. What did that mean to you?

"It meant a lot. It certainly caught me off guard. I didn't expect that. Jonathan and I have kind of a special bond that we've had over the years and for him to be the leader and do what he did was very special and very emotional. It was something that I'll never forget."

How have you been feeling?

"Chemo week is tough. I have treatments every other Monday, and then I get sent home with a drip pack of chemo for two days, then they come and unhook me for that. Those three days and then the next couple of days after that are a little bit tougher, then gradually you start to feel better and get into the off week. But then you start again all over the following week. It's just kind of a cycle that continues."

What is daily life like right now?

"With COVID and my immune system being compromised, it's tough. Basically, I'm at home and going through the same thing on a daily basis, just trying to feel better, trying to get some strength, some energy. It's important that I get out and walk in whatever capacity I can. That kind of fills the days. It's not very exciting and honestly, day to day when I wake up, I don't know how I'm going to feel. So it's just a daily grind. You have to take advantage whenever you have good days. I've had a lot of support, a lot of friends have come by and said hello. So that support is important and they're doing that on a daily basis, checking in on me."

Speaking of support, how much have you gotten from the hockey community?

"The support has been incredible. A lot of times, people just don't take the time to reach out on a normal basis. But when something like this happens, the hockey world, everybody in every way, shape or form in our little community has reached out. It's been really overwhelming, people you don't know very well reaching out and showing their support and saying, 'We're thinking of you,' which means a lot. The support from Katrina Vlasich who made the "Team Murray" wrist bands. (Former Blackhawks defenseman/current San Jose Sharks general manager) Doug Wilson has called me often to check up on me. I'm thinking of him and wish him well. (Wilson took a temporary medical leave Friday).

"The support from the Blackhawks has been tremendous. It's been 40 years since I was a 19-year-old kid coming into the Blackhawks organization and I've run through generations of leadership with the Wirtz family (chairman Rocky Wirtz and his son, chief executive officer Danny Wirtz). The one thing that has never changed is their loyalty to their people and the Blackhawks and the Wirtzes are an extended part of my family and it's been such a big help. They've just said, 'Whatever you need to do is the important thing here.'"

Blackhawks broadcaster Eddie Olczyk was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in August 2017 and said he was cancer free on March 22, 2018. Have you talked to him a lot about fighting this?

"I've leaned on Eddie quite heavily. He's been unbelievable as far as his support in helping me in understanding some of the things that I'm going through that he went through. And basically, we have the same treatment schedule, every other Monday, and he said, this is what's going to happen, and this is what you're going to be feeling. Eddie and I, we go back almost 40 years. We were in each other's weddings and it was terrible to see him go through that. I'm happy he got over it and he's in a good spot now. Being very good friends with Eddie and his family, it's been unbelievable to be able to lean on him in so many ways, going through this."

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