Inside The NHL

March 03, 2003
March 03, 2003

Table of Contents
March 3, 2003

Inside The NHL

The Secret Is Out
In his second stint in Boston, emerging star right wing Glen
Murray has drawn comparisons to an alltime great

This is an article from the March 3, 2003 issue Original Layout

The name across the back of his black-and-gold sweater was the
same, but when the Bruins acquired right wing Glen Murray from
the Kings in October 2001, little else suggested that he was the
same player Boston had drafted in 1991 and given up on four years
later. The Murray who was shipped to the Penguins for wing Kevin
Stevens in August '95 was an erratic shooter and a tentative
skater who was often behind the play. "The NHL was too quick for
me," Murray says of his first stint in Boston.

Now 30, Murray is quicker, stronger and more mature. Since
returning to the Bruins with center Jozef Stumpel in the trade
that sent center Jason Allison to Los Angeles, the 6'3",
225-pound Murray has become one of the best snipers in the NHL.
Thanks to a lightning release and a wicked slap shot, he was one
of five players with 40 or more goals last season (he had a
career-high 41) and through Sunday was on pace to equal that
total this year. (He had 30 goals, eighth in the league, and 65
points, the 11th-highest total.)

Last month Murray played in his first All-Star Game, and his
style--he often darts in and out of the area between the
circles--is drawing comparisons to hockey royalty. "The thing he
does well is find open areas on the ice," says Flyers defenseman
Eric Weinrich. "He's like Brett Hull."

"Not to take anything away from Brett Hull," says Bruins general
manager Mike O'Connell, "but Glen is a more complete player."

Murray had two mediocre seasons in Pittsburgh but turned around
his career after he was dealt to the Kings in 1997. He received
consistent ice time with L.A. and scored 29 goals in '97-98 and
again in 1999-2000. (A sprained right knee in '98-99 held him
to 16 goals in 61 games.) "I learned defensemen's tendencies and
how to find dead spots on the ice," he says.

His conditioning also improved, thanks to summer workouts at a
gym in Venice, Calif., with a group of NHL players that included
Rob Blake, Anson Carter and Chris Chelios. The regimen included
weightlifting, running and beach volleyball, and all that work
has helped Murray's stamina.

One other factor has favored Murray since his return to Boston:
His development coincided with that of linemate Joe Thornton, who
often dominates when he's on the ice. "The kicker for [Murray] is
the emergence of Thornton," says Panthers G.M. Rick Dudley. "When
a player like Thornton emerges, then a player with the ability to
score, like Murray, will get more opportunities."

Carolina's Miserable Season
From Champs To Chumps

One Western Conference scout who was assigned to keep tabs on the
Hurricanes last spring remained unimpressed even as they
scratched and clutched their way to the Eastern Conference
championship. Carolina, he insisted, lacked overall firepower and
depth at the blue line. "I thought they played over their heads,"
the scout says. "I looked silly when they made it to the Stanley
Cup finals."

Now that scout looks like a seer. Through Sunday the Hurricanes,
who lost the Cup in five games to the Red Wings last spring, were
18-30-9-6 and in 13th place in the East. The only thing thinner
than their playoff hopes was the depth of their injury-depleted
roster. Earlier this month coach Paul Maurice tried to shake up
the club by singling out seven players for a 12minute
postpractice skating drill. The ordeal ended with left wing Craig
MacDonald collapsed on the ice from exhaustion and right wing
Jeff O'Neill, the team's lone All-Star, lashing out. "If that's
the way [Maurice] wants to carry on, he can do it," O'Neill said.
"I'm playing for my teammates."

Slumps and injuries have decimated a team that couldn't withstand
much adversity. Goaltender Arturs Irbe, who was nearly
impenetrable in the 2002 postseason, was banished to the minors
on Feb. 13 for two weeks, after his goals-against average swelled
to 3.06, third worst in the league. Right wing Sami Kapanen, the
team's second-leading scorer a year ago with 69 points, was
traded to the Flyers last month after failing to snap out of a
seasonlong funk in which he had just 18 points in 43 games.

Center Rod Brind'Amour (tendon damage in his right hand) and left
wing Erik Cole (broken left fibula) are out for the season. Those
injuries leave O'Neill and center Ron Francis as the only healthy
Hurricanes who had scored 10 or more goals at week's end. With
the fewest goals in the league, Carolina has little chance of
defending its conference championship.

Compressed Schedule Fallout
Many Tired, Ailing Teams

Typically a club's complaints about the schedule outnumber its
frequent-flier miles, but this season there's good reason to
gripe. To conclude the Stanley Cup playoffs by June 9 at the
latest, the league has compressed the 82-game schedule to 180
days, at least 10 fewer than usual.

"People don't understand the toll it takes on you, not only
physically but mentally," says Coyotes coach Bobby Francis. "When
you have a condensed schedule like this, it leads to injuries."
Indeed, through Sunday the league's teams were on pace to lose
7,001 man-games to injuries, about 1,000 more than last
season. --Daniel G. Habib

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COLOR PHOTO: STEVE BABINEAU/SPORTS ACTION Murray (27) is on pace to score at least 40 goals for the secondstraight season.COLOR PHOTO: DAVE SANDFORD/GETTY IMAGES/NHLI Cup finalists a year ago, Aaron Ward and Carolina have takentheir lumps.