7 Cool Things About Ex-Maple Leafs Defenseman Larry Murphy

The Hockey Writers

Larry Murphy was born on March 8, 1961, in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. He was a towering defenseman, standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing 210 pounds. He was chosen by the Los Angeles Kings in the first round (fourth overall) of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft.

Throughout his NHL career, Murphy played for six different NHL teams. He began his NHL journey with the Kings in the 1980-81 season, where he quickly established himself as a tough blueliner. After three seasons with the Kings, he joined the Washington Capitals in the middle of the 1983-84 season. There he continued to excel defensively while also contributing offensively.

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Murphy’s tenure with the Capitals lasted until the 1988-89 season when he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars. He moved to the Pittsburgh Penguins later that same season. With the Penguins, Murphy truly hit his stride. He became a key part of the team’s defensive core and contributed significantly to their success.

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Over the years, Murphy’s journey in the NHL took him to two additional teams. These included the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings. His career statistics speak volumes about his skill and consistency on the ice. By the time he retired, he had played 1,615 regular-season games. He also had a great playoff career and added 152 points in 215 playoff games.

Cool Thing One: Murphy Was Part of Four Stanley-Cup Winning Teams

Murphy was the only NHL player to be part of four Stanley Cup championships in the 1990s. He lifted the Cup four times, twice with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992, and then again with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. These championships helped solidify his legacy as a great defenseman. 

Related: 7 Cool Things About Maple Leafs’ Eddie Shack

The Penguins’ Stanley Cup-winning seasons also included some other great players such as Mario Lemieux (the team captain), Jaromir Jagr (half of the dynamic offensive duo), Ron Francis (a great two-way player), and Tom Barrasso (who made crucial saves and stole games). The Red Wings also had a great roster, with Steve Yzerman (the revered captain), Sergei Fedorov (as adept on defense as he was on offense), current Maple Leafs’ president Brendan Shanahan (adding physicality and scoring), and Nicklas Lidstrom (as intelligent a defenseman as anyone who played in the NHL). Alongside Murphy, these players formed the core of two different championship teams, leaving an enduring legacy in NHL history.

Cool Thing Two: Murphy Had a Record-Setting Rookie Season

Murphy began his career with an outstanding rookie season. His remarkable season saw him score 16 goals and set records for most assists and points by a rookie defenseman (with an impressive 60 assists and 76 points). Interestingly, that season he did not win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie. Instead, it went to Peter Stastny of the Quebec Nordiques.

Cool Thing Three: Murphy Patented What Became the “Murphy Dump”

Murphy became known for his innovative playing style and popularized what became known as the “Murphy Dump” during his time with the Penguins. This strategic move included a lot of “touch.” Murphy had the knack of skillfully dumping the puck down the ice far enough to clear the zone but not so far that it would result in an icing call. Not only was it smart hockey, but it was also a creative and effective tactic.

Cool Thing Four: For All His Success, Murphy Was Not Appreciated in Toronto

Interestingly, Murphy faced challenges from Maple Leafs’ fans for several reasons. First, as a high-profile defenseman acquired by the Maple Leafs, expectations were high. Fans anticipated stellar performances every night on the ice. He often failed to meet these expectations; and, in a tough market like Toronto, it led to frustration and dissatisfaction among the fan base. 

Larry Murphy Pittsburgh Penguins
Larry Murphy, Pittsburgh Penguins, 1991 Stanley Cup, May 25, 1991
(Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

In addition, any Murphy turnover, defensive lapse, bad play, or poor Maple Leafs’ team performance during his tenure exacerbated the dissatisfaction. The team was underperforming and he often bore the brunt of fans’ ire, regardless of his individual contributions. The challenging environment in Toronto shaped his relationship with the fan base. Sadly, he wasn’t the last defenseman to meet such issues.

Cool Thing Five: Murphy Had a Long NHL Career That Included International Success

Murphy’s career spanned an impressive 21 NHL seasons. In his career, he played for six different teams and was both durable and consistently good. Oddly, except in Toronto, he was almost universally respected as a player everywhere he played. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004. His impressive total of 1,216 points places him as the fifth-highest-scoring defenseman in NHL history. His Hall of Fame enshrinement has solidified his place among the game’s legends.

Related: 7 Cool Things About Maple Leafs’ Goalie Felix “The Cat” Potvin

Murphy’s achievements also extended beyond the NHL ice. He often represented Team Canada on the international stage. He played a key role in Canada’s victories at the Canada Cup in 1987 and 1991.

Cool Thing Six: Murphy Was a Well-Known Red Wings Broadcaster 

Following his retirement from professional hockey, Murphy transitioned into broadcasting with the Red Wings. His broadcasting career allowed him a chance to show his expertise in hockey analysis. Following former teammate Pat Verbeek‘s departure in 2006, Murphy assumed a more full-time responsibility. While he was relieved of his duties in 2013, he was rehired in 2019 (from ‘Fox Sports Detroit releases statement regarding Larry Murphy’s termination from Red Wings broadcasts’, MLive, 3/24/13). He continues to make occasional appearances, demonstrating his enduring presence and impact in the broadcasting realm.

Cool Thing Seven: Murphy Led His 3Ice Team to the Championship

Murphy’s career has extended beyond his playing days. More recently, he established himself as a notable coach by leading his team to the 3ICE’s Patrick Cup title in 2023. During the season, his team had a strong 7-1 record and a league-leading 36 goals. He was given the Eddie Johnston Coach of the Year award. His coaching was highlighted by the blue-collar mentality he cultivated during his playing years in the Midwest.

The Bottom Line for Larry Murphy’s NHL Success

Murphy’s impact on the game of hockey extended beyond his impressive statistics. He left a mark on each team he played for and cemented his legacy as one of the greatest defensemen in NHL history. From his Stanley Cup triumphs to his innovative playing style and successful broadcasting career, Murphy’s impact on the world of hockey is enduring.

Larry Murphy Team Murphy 3ICE
Larry Murphy, Team Murphy, 3ICE (Photo by Gregory Shamus/3ICE/Getty Images)

As noted, Murphy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004. Could it be that there remain Maple Leafs fans who continue to believe he’s undeserving of the honor?

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