For the Sharks, the new season has brought a lot of new faces, but for Douglas Murray
, it’s more about a new role. The Swedish blueliner has been an integral part of the Sharks net protection for four campaigns now, but things have changes.
Due to his development and play in the exhibition season, the rugged Murray is now part of the Sharks top-four with regards to minutes and is being asked to not just play defense, but to be a leader for the franchise.
“They (management) talked to me at the end of last year,” Murray said. “Now I have to back it up. We’re going to need 23 players helping.”
“He’s an important part of our club,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said. “He had a tremendous camp and he has to keep moving forward. He’s established well enough on our team that he can go after the high end players and help the younger players as well. He’s important both on and off the ice.”
Murray appreciates the challenge for the current season.
“You always want to move up and you want to be involved as much as possible,” Murray said.
Murray’s not too far away from his younger days to forget being brought under someone’s wings. He has started returning the favor, even having rookies Ryan Vesce and Nick Petrecki
stay with him while in San Jose.
“When I first got here, a lot of guys took care of me,” Murray said. “You have to pay it back and take care of the younger guys.”
Murray has been logging time alongside Dan Boyle
, the Sharks top puck mover.
Boyle joked that it was nice have such a large presence (Murray stands 6-foot-3) skating beside him. Murray isn’t the tallest Sharks player, but his wide shoulders make him the heaviest.
“It’s nice having a guy like that (240 pounds) beside me,” Boyle said.
Murray’s size still catches opponents off guard when they take a run at him.
“He has an element of surprise when people are coming to hit him and he hits them first,” McLellan said.
Murray isn’t looking to drop the gloves when he’s on the ice, but he definitely can hold his own when he needs to stick up for a teammate.
“He’s not afraid of anybody,” Boyle said. “We’d rather have him on the ice (instead of the penalty box), but he’s ready and willing to take on anybody.”
Murray didn’t experience the fisticuffs much growing up in Sweden and then playing U.S. college hockey, but he has the toughness necessary and had some good advice from those in the organization.
“Tim Hunter (former Sharks assistant coach) talked to me about what to do,” Murray said. “I had a couple of fights in the Eastern Junior Hockey League. You pick it up pretty quick. You can grab guys a lot and I’m strong enough to protect myself.”
Murray isn’t content with his current game and will continue to improve whenever possible.
“The day you’re satisfied, you might as well stop playing,” Murray said.
There’s a chance the Sharks could call a player up from Worcester in time for the home opener on Thursday.
Quebec Remparts defenseman Samuel Groulx, a Sharks prospect, was named the TELUS defensive player of the week in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the period extending from Sept. 28-Oct. 4.
In four games, the Remparts defenseman registered two goals and five helpers. Furthermore, he posted a plus-4 rating, collected nine shots on goal and was credited with five hits while helping the Remparts win three out of four games.
The Sharks will open their home schedule Thursday against Columbus. The contest can be viewed on Comcast SportsNet California and heard on 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.