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Matt Murray was 'shocked' by broken hand

Penguins goalie remains optimistic of quick recovery from injury sustained at World Cup

by Wes Crosby / Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray was shocked he broke his hand.

While meeting with reporters after Team North America's 4-3 loss to Team Russia in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 on Sept. 19, Murray said he had jammed his thumb midway through the second period. After Penguins training camp opened Friday, coach Mike Sullivan said he expected Murray to take a few days to rest before joining practice.

That quickly changed Saturday, when Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said Murray would miss 3-6 weeks with a broken hand.

"I was shocked, to be honest," Murray said. "It's happened to me before where I jammed a thumb. I'm sure everybody's jammed a thumb. It's happened twice before, and it usually turns out to be just a contusion-type thing, a bone bruise. That's what I thought this was. I was completely honest when I said it was minor, so yeah when I came here, it wasn't until after I got the MRI that I knew what was wrong. I was shocked."

Murray, 22, was expected to compete with Marc-Andre Fleury for the starting role entering his second NHL season. Now the crease, at least temporarily, belongs to Fleury.

Murray and Fleury each impressed last season. Before sustaining a second concussion in four months, Fleury had possibly the best regular season of his NHL career, going 35-17-6 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .921 save percentage.

On Sunday, Fleury described Murray's injury as unfortunate.

"I never would wish for another goalie or anybody else on this team to get hurt," Fleury said. "I think that's something I've seen, how quick the game changes and how things change on a team."

Murray claimed the starting role during his rookie season following Fleury's concussion on March 31 and went 15-6 with a 2.08 GAA and .923 save percentage in 21 starts during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Three months removed from winning the Stanley Cup, Murray said he would have to fight the urge to return early.

"This time of year, you definitely don't want to rush back, and I think that's going to be a challenge," Murray said. "Obviously, I want to get back to playing, but you don't want to push yourself too early and re-aggravate it or whatever. I really don't know. I've never had an injury to the ligament, so it's hard to tell."

Murray said he sustained the injury by diving across the net and landing on his hand, which caused it to snap back. Although it is expected to keep him out to start the regular season, the break doesn't concern Murray.

"Honestly, it feels pretty good," he said. "It doesn't hurt or anything as long as I'm not using it. It's just the ligament that is a bit loose or whatever. Altogether, obviously it's a small part of your body so I feel good. It feels pretty good."

Murray said he doesn't know if his return will be closer to three weeks or six.

"It just sucks not knowing," he said. "I've never had a ligament injury that bad. That's the only thing that's keeping me out, the ability to kind of grip my stick properly. It kind of sucks not knowing, because I don't feel that bad to be honest."

Despite the injury, Murray enjoyed his time with Team North America and playing in a few high-quality games before reporting to camp. He was looking forward to using the experience to transition back into his role with the Penguins.

That's been put on hold, but Murray is attempting to remain optimistic.

"I felt really good," Murray said. "It's good to get that competition aspect in there so soon, so early in the season. Unfortunately now I won't see it for a little while, but it's something that I'll come back from 100 percent. I don't need surgery or anything, which is good. It should be all good."

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