After going almost a month without playing in a game for the Badgers, the Badger Hockey Showdown was a big weekend for Jordy Murray, as he would finally get back on the ice.
His shoulder was recovered from an injury suffered on Dec. 3, and his father, Andy Murray, would even be in attendance for Sunday’s game at the Kohl Center.
Little did the Murrays know that the elder Murray would get the opportunity to see Jordy Murray in his first game back from injury.
When his father called early Saturday morning, the Badgers’ sophomore forward received some bad news and some good news.
The bad news was that the 58-year-old Andy Murray had been dismissed as head coach by the St. Louis Blues after struggling to a 17-17-6 start to the 2009-10 season.
“You know as a coach you’re being evaluated every single game,” Murray told reporters Saturday. “(But) I was surprised by it … anybody would be surprised.”
It was the second time Murray had been fired from a head coaching position in the NHL, with the first coming in 2006 when he was dismissed by the Los Angeles Kings. Murray was hired in December of the same year by the St. Louis Blues to replace Mike Kitchen after the Blues endured a seven-game losing streak.
On the positive side, though, it meant the elder Murray would get the chance to see his son play Saturday night at the Kohl Center as the Badgers took on the Merrimack Warriors.
“I’m fine with it; it happened before, and he actually came here tonight,” Jordy Murray said of the Blues’ decision. “He’s never seen me play live (in college); so, I kind of like that and I think I gave him a pretty good game.”
Following the bad news, the elder Murray scrambled to find a plane ticket to fly in a day earlier, as he had previously been planning to attend Sunday’s game on his day off. Jordy Murray reserved a game ticket for his father, but he was not able to see him before the game and was not even sure if he made it to the game on time.
Still, knowing that his father (hopefully) was in attendance, Murray did not disappoint, and likely lifted the spirits of his family during such a tough time.
“It’ll be good to see him, go up and talk to him and talk hockey,” Jordy Murray said.
If it had not been for a late game-winning goal by defenseman Ryan McDonagh, the younger Murray would have had the play of the game for the Badgers, as he used impressive puck-handling skills to put one past Warrior goaltender Joe Cannata.
Murray’s goal made it 3-2 in favor of Wisconsin and was the second of three UW goals in the second period. It also was Murray’s fifth goal of the season, tying him for fifth on the team with fellow sophomore Derek Stepan.
“I got pretty lucky I guess,” Murray said of the goal. “The puck hit my stick and it didn’t go all the way to the corner, I guess it stuck on the ice kind of because the ice wasn’t the greatest.
“I got it, and the goalie came out pretty far, I was a little surprised by that (and I) didn’t really have an angle to shoot at,” he continued. “So I kind of faked it and basically tucked it in, had a wide open net and I was pretty excited at that point.”
Despite having Murray dealing with his father being fired by the Blues, head coach Mike Eaves was not worried in the least about his 5-foot-9 forward’s focus against Merrimack.
According to Eaves, since both Jordy and Andy Murray have been through this before when the elder Murray was fired by the Los Angeles Kings in 2006, it was not as difficult a situation as it might otherwise have been.
“If you read the articles about how [Andy Murray] left his job, it was such a classy thing: he left a note for the incoming coach,” Eaves said. “That’s Andy; he understands the business, he knows what it’s all about.”