When it comes to big players on the Sharks roster, literally none are bigger than Douglas Murray
. Joe Thornton
and Rob Blake may be an inch taller, but nobody can match the broad shoulders of the six-foot-three, 240 pound Murray.
The most important aspect about his size is that he uses it. Game in and game out, Murray is someone opponents have to fear and respect.
The Swedish product is not looking to lay the lumber on every shift. He is smart about when to strike as his Ivy League education would indicate.
“Doug is very seldom out of position,” said Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan.
“You can’t think every game you are going to get a big hit, but you can create your situations,” said Murray.
A missed shot on goal means the Sharks have to start playing defense or scrap for a rebound. A missed hit in the open ice is a scoring opportunity for the opponents and a dangerous situation for the Sharks netminder.
“It can create a two-on-one the other way,” said Murray. “I’m not going to run across the ice and create a scoring chance for the other team.”
Murray contributes a lot of his success to the forwards on the Sharks roster.
“A lot of the time, it is easier because our forwards are coming back through the middle and the puck carrier is worried about them,” said Murray.
Murray’s teammates may contribute to his success, but what they really do is appreciate his talents.
“He is a physical guy and his big hits get me going,” said Sharks defenseman Brad Lukowich. “It’s leadership, old school.”
“It makes it a lot more fun when the guys on the team appreciate it,” said Murray.
The ability to find a big hit is something that Murray’s grandfather, former Swedish Olympic hockey player Lasse Bjorn, instilled in him early and something he would practice even as a youngster.
“I remember (other kids’) parents yelling at me when I was eight or nine,” said Murray. “My grandfather would show me how a guy got hit and he would show me when someone should have hit someone.”
Murray’s reputation now precedes him before every contest.
“Shane O’Brien (a teammate in Tampa Bay) told me he was one of the more effective hitters out here,” said Brad Lukowich. “In Tampa Bay we weren’t really a physical defense. We had a lot of skill.”
Some of Murray’s best hits happen when he braces his 240 pound frame against an oncoming attacker. On Saturday night against Washington, he leveled a forward initiating the contact.
“Doug takes down players who are trying to run him,” said Lukowich. “He is one of the heaviest hitters in the league.”
“With his gear on, I think he’s 260 pounds,” laughed Ryane Clowe
. “In the AHL, he hit (Jiri) Hudler so hard, I thought they would have to scrape him out of the rafters.”
Murray is known for not only being a big leveler of punishment, but he also does it in a very legal way. That being said, he knows opponents will come after him for his aggressions.
“We’re going to do the same thing if someone runs Patty or Joe,” said Murray. “It’s just part of the game.”
When a player is pancaked by Murray, the reaction can be a look of anger, some spewed bitter words or sometimes the opponent will simply get up without saying a thing.
“It differs from guy to guy,” said Murray.
The response at HP Pavilion for an open ice hit, or the silence from a road crowd, makes Murray’s shots almost feel as important as a goal.
“I don’t know if Doug is going to score 20 goals, but he’s provided energy in a lot of games,” said McLellan.
For Murray, the adulation is nice, but the wins are what counts and he plans to keep the big hits and victories coming throughout the 2008-09 campaign.
EXEC OF THE YEAR
Sharks Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Charlie Faas was recently named the private company CFO of the year award by the San Jose Business Journal.
San Jose will host Chicago on Wednesday night at HP Pavilion in a 7:30 p.m. contest that will be available on CSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com. Tickets are available at www.ticketmaster.com and at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office.