The Buffalo Sabres have had a rough start to the season, as injuries have caused problems with their roster of players. Assistant coach Terry Murray has been behind the bench for it all, now in his second season with the team.
“Our two top centremen, three defencemen and top line wingers have all been out at the same time and for an extended time,” said Murray. “Some of the injuries happened before the season opener and it’s almost Christmas and we’re still waiting to get healthy.”
Murray was officially hired on as an assistant coach with the Sabres in June 2015. Head coach Dan Bylsma announced the appointments with Dave Barr and Murray as his assistants. Murray, of course, is the uncle to Sabres general manager Tim Murray.
It has not been easy for the Sabres over the last few years. During the 2014-15 season, the Sabres have played out their schedule in a lock for the last place in the league. The 2015-16 season saw a bit of an improvement for Buffalo — the team settled at 23 out of the 30 teams.
With the NHL taking a couple days off for Christmas, as of Dec. 23 (before the game against the New York Islanders) the Sabres are sitting at 25th in the league with a record of 12 wins, 12 losses and eight overtime/shootout losses.
“But with all of that, we have a lot of games left,” said Murray. “We have games in hand on some teams in front of us and players are starting to get back into the lineup, so we’ll find out soon enough what we have.”
“What we do know, is this team has a bright future because of the young players that are on the team. We’re playing several young players that have been called up from the minors and getting valuable experience. We even called up a defenceman from the WHL for three games a couple of weeks ago. All these injuries, as frustrating as they are now, will play out as a positive for the team in the future.”
Terry is one of 10 children of Rhoda and Clarence Murray and calls Shawville, Quebec his hometown. Of course, one of those other Murray children is Bryan, now a senior hockey advisor to the Ottawa Senators.
Terry lived with his family on a farm for his first few years and eventually the move was made into Shawville to the house on King Street, which Clarence built himself. The street was also where Terry first encountered hockey.
“The first time I skated was on an outdoor rink in Selly Langford’s yard, at the end of King (Street),” Terry said. “All the kids that grew up in the end of town played hockey every day on the rink; we’d have games with 15 players on each team, everybody playing at the same time, no system play, just having fun.”
Terry’s NHL career began as a player when the California Golden Seals drafted him (the team was also known as the Oakland Seals) and then he had stints with the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals.
Washington was where he would begin his career behind the bench as he was hired as the assistant coach in 1983 with Bryan as head coach. Terry became the head coach for the team in 1989. He was also the bench boss with the Florida Panthers and eventually he circled back to Flyers and was the coach when Philadelphia went to the Stanley Cup final in 1997.
Terry made a return to the Flyers as an assistant coach for four seasons before being hired as head coach for the Los Angeles Kings in 2008.
“What I remember the most about playing for the Flyers, are the players I played with,” said Terry. “That group was a team that did some extraordinary things. They were champions.”
“Being a player in the NHL is living your dream, so when you move into another part of the game, it’s different. Becoming a coach eases the transition away from playing because you’re still on the ice, still around the team, traveling and working together to win. But you also know that you’re not sitting in that room getting ready to compete, that’s what you miss the most.”
To celebrate the 50 years of the Philadelphia Flyers – established in 1967 – writer Jay Greenberg published a book to mark the occasion. The 600-page tome includes profiles of ‘50 Flyer Heroes’ and Terry gets picked as number 40.
“The book that Jay Greenberg wrote, the 50-year history of the Flyers, took him several years and I’m sure hundreds of hours to interview all of the people that have been a part of the Flyers throughout their history,” said Terry.
“I had no idea, where I would fit in the team’s history when going through the interview process. So when the book was released about a month ago, and heard about how it came together, I feel honored to have been a part of a team of great hockey people and know that I will always be connected to a historic organization.”
Terry remembered the first Flyers training camp that he took part of and the team had just won their second Stanley Cup (1975).
“Every one of those players had time to talk to you, to hang out, go to lunch and share stories,” he said. “The owner, Ed Snider, would be around camp and take the time to welcome you to the Flyers, and ask about family and where you came from. The culture that that team had built in such a short time was incredible. I never met the owner of the Oakland Seals, I knew who he was but there’s a difference.”
All-Star Classic Honour
Terry had spent a few seasons with the Los Angeles Kings before the organization decided on a different direction in the 2011-12 season. Although he didn’t last the season to see the Kings squeak into the playoffs and eventually win the whole thing, the team would present him with a Stanley Cup ring for their 2012 win.
The departure would eventually take Terry back to the Flyers organization as head coach for the Adirondack Phantoms (affiliate team) in the American Hockey League. The team was rebranded as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for the 2014-15 season.
Terry’s time coaching in the AHL — and a stint as a player in the 1970s — is the reason for his latest honour at the AHL All-Star Classic, which is to take place at the end of the January in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Terry was asked to be an honourary captain, along with Danny Briere, the former captain of the Flyers.
“To be asked along with Danny Briere, is an honour,” said Terry. “It was a phone call from the league president, Dave Andrews, a couple of weeks ago. He said they select people that have played and/or coached in the league and to be a part of the all-star festivities. It’s a three-day event with a skills competition, the game, a hall of fame dinner, and probably a couple of other events that will keep it an exciting time.”
Having spent over 45 years in hockey within the AHL and the NHL, Terry has certainly put in the time to earn these accolades.