Goaltender Matt Murray returned home to Thunder Bay last week a champion, and he had the prize to prove it.
On July 19, Murray brought the Stanley Cup to Intercity Shopping Centre for a meet and greet with fans that lasted hours and saw fans lined up out the door to meet the champion and the cup.
Afterwards friends and family were invited to a private function at the Red Lion Smokehouse. In attendance were people who knew Murray before he was a Stanley Cup champion but also knew he was bound for greatness.
Dave MacKenzie still works as a goalie coach in Thunder Bay and he recalls the day 11 years ago when Murray himself was only 11. Murray’s mother approached him when she felt her son needed further training and what he saw was an obvious young talent.
“He was driven. He was absolute. I would stand behind the net and watch him position himself and we would talk about it afterwards,” recalls MacKenzie. “He was absolutely committed to the position of playing goal and I think we’re here tonight to see what that commitment is all about.”
MacKenzie was thrilled to be invited to the event and said that he still goes back and reads emails he saved from 2005 between him and the Murrays.
After MacKenzie steered Murray to the Thunder Bay Kings the young goaltender moved away from home to play for the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds.
Evan Papineau was Murray’s billet in The Soo and this trip to Thunder Bay was not his first time seeing one of his kids come home with a Stanley Cup.
“I’ve had Jake Muzzin who is also in the NHL, won a cup,” said Papineau. “I’ve had eight or nine players and I have four more in the NHL and every one are focused if they really want it and they put there heart into it and have the talent, they can go.”
Papineau said Murray has always been calm and focused and that mixed with dedication is what it takes to make it into the NHL, and as Murray has proven, it can lead you all the way to winning the Stanley Cup.