Tag: Mike Murphy

Cam Ward

Cam Ward’s lower-body injury knocks him out of action

Carolina starts a six-game home stand against Washington tonight on NBCSN, but they’re going to start it without goalie Cam Ward.

Chip Alexander of the News & Observer reports that Ward will be out of action with a lower-body injury that’s been giving him trouble of late. Alexander tweets that Ward’s status is day-to-day for now. Ward didn’t start Friday night against the Sharks and left Saturday’s game against the Islanders after the second period after what coach Kirk Muller calls a “slight tweak.”

With the Hurricanes already going without backup goalie Brian Boucher, Justin Peters ascends into the starting role while Carolina calls up Mike Murphy to be the backup for tonight’s game at least. Murphy, as you might recall, managed to earn his first NHL loss this season while not giving up a goal. The Hurricanes will try to make his second stint in the NHL a little more memorable for the right reasons this time.

A tale of two rookie goalies: Matt Hackett and Mike Murphy

Matt Hackett

Last night showed that being a rookie goalie thrust into action can be both rewarding and a kick in the teeth.

In San Jose, the Minnesota Wild were forced to put Matt Hackett to work after Nick Schultz’s accidental elbow to the head of starter Josh Harding would put him out of action. No problem for Hackett, however, as he wouldn’t allow a goal the rest of the way stopping 29 shots on the way to a 2-1 Wild win.

Being a rookie and being forced to make a debut like that is daunting and can cause most young goalies to melt down. Not so much for Hackett as he’s got NHL bloodlines thanks to his uncle, former NHL starting goalie Jeff Hackett.

As for Carolina’s Mike Murphy, things didn’t go quite as warmly.  When Murphy entered the game with 8:58 to play and the Hurricanes down 6-3 all he had to do was to play out the string. Murphy did just that stopping both shots he saw.

While Carolina made it 6-4 thanks to an Eric Staal goal, Murphy would be pulled for the extra skater when Jarome Iginla added the empty net goal to make it 7-4. Murphy went back in only to see Carolina score two very late goals to cut it to 7-6, thus helping Mike Murphy the goalie of record and earning him a loss before allowing a goal. Elias says that’s the first time in NHL history that’s ever happened.

To chalk it up: Matt Hackett allows no goals and earns a win and becomes a Minnesota hero while Mike Murphy doesn’t allow a goal and becomes a footnote in statistical history. Not bad for a pair of first impressions.

Question: Would Horton still be playing if the NHL handled things earlier in the Cup Final?

Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins - Game Three

There have been two prevailing philosophies in the wake of Aaron Rome’s ill-fated hit on Nathan Horton. On one side of the fence, there are those who think the incident could have been avoided if the NHL took action at the beginning of the series to make sure things didn’t get out of hand. Since the hit was not properly dealt with by the league, the situation escalated and peaked with the charged atmosphere of Game 3.

For the opposing viewpoint, there are those who think the Burrows incident may have been shameful, but it had nothing to do with the disastrous hit that led Horton to Massachusetts General Hospital. Alex Burrows antics may have led to misbehavior in Game 2 and 3, but had nothing to do with the merciless hit delivered by Aaron Rome.

Hall of Fame columnist Helene Elliott of the LA Times thinks Rome’s hit in Game 3 could have been avoided had the league executed some discipline earlier in the series:

“(Rome’s hit) might have been avoided had Murphy established control by suspending Vancouver’s Alex Burrows for biting the fingers of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron in Game 1 or punished Vancouver’s Maxim Lapierre for putting his fingers near Bergeron’s mouth in a taunting fashion in Game 2. When Game 3 disintegrated, Bruins forwards Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic joined the juvenile pranks, taunting and wagging fingers at the Canucks.

“I will be speaking with both general managers and coaches before the day’s over about what we are seeing, the garbage that is going on, some of the issues,” Murphy said Tuesday during a news conference.

Just like Rome’s hit, Murphy’s lecture came a little too late.”

Not everyone shares Elliott’s opinion. Neither Comcast New England’s Joe Haggerty, nor Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien think the events are related.

“There is no correlation between the post-whistle shenanigans practiced by the Bruins and Canucks in the first three games of the series, and the predatory, reckless hit by Rome that’s ended Horton’s season. That was a piece of hockey violence born from two teams fighting for the same Stanley Cup.

It’s a major leap to say the Horton hit was caused by anything else other than a random act of violence in the playoffs that has left another B’s player dazed, confused and unsure of where he is. Julien won’t take that leap. He’s watched years and years of playoff hockey where borderline hits, broken bones and even biting all have their place within the game.

“I don’t think one links to the other,” said Julien. “What you see with the extra pushes and shoves after whistles are things you see in the playoff finals with the intensity. The referees have done a pretty good job of controlling that. I don’t see an issue there. The physicality of the game has to stay there.”

While it’s understandable to see where Elliott is coming from, Aaron Rome would still have made the same play whether Alex Burrows was suspended or not after Game 1. One play has nothing to do with the other. As Haggerty states, it was “born from two teams fighting for the Stanley Cup.” Rome made an open-ice hit—albeit extremely late. Regardless, it’s a split-second decision that is made in a fast-paced game. He didn’t have time to sit back and contemplate whether he’d receive less punishment because the standard had already been set so low. As much as fans (and I) have come to hate the term, he was trying to make “a hockey play.” Obviously, he failed and that’s why he’ll miss the rest of the series.

Even though the lack of response from the league office had nothing to do with the Rome hit, it has certainly adversely affected the rest of the series. If Murphy and Co. took care of business after the first game, all of the embarrassing finger waging by both teams could have been avoided. Chances are Maxim Lapierre doesn’t taunt Patrice Bergeron in the same manner; likewise, Milan Lucic and Mark Recchi aren’t caught doing the exact same thing in Game 3.

But it still had nothing to do with Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton.

What do you think? Do you think the league contributed to a toxic atmosphere in Game 3 where Aaron Rome lost control? Was Rome’s hit completely unrelated to the rest of the series? What say you?

Mike Murphy consulted with Brian Burke before issuing Rome’s 4-game suspension

Brian Burke

Over the last 24 hours, plenty has been made of Aaron Rome’s devastating hit that sent Boston Bruins’ forward Nathan Horton to the hospital with a “severe concussion.” There were those who said Horton should have been skating with his head up and there were plenty more who thought this was a cheap shot on the NHL’s biggest stage. Regardless, all fans looked to the league’s disciplinarian to see how they’d react to such a devastating hit that crossed the line of legality. The answer was harsh and swift: 4-game suspension and a seat in the press box for the rest of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Mike Murphy was asked plenty of questions about the 4-game suspension to Aaron Rome. One of the more interesting questions posed at the press conference was if there was some kind of formula when suspending players in the regular season vs. postseason.

Murphy’s response:

I wish there was a number (equating playoff games to regular season games). There’s not. You have to feel that. I know in the past when we had a playoff suspension, I remember the Pronger elbow going back, the Lemieux hit going on, that was two, Pronger was one. I spoke to the gentleman who issued the two. Wanted his formula, talked to him about it. I’m talking about Brian Burke. I don’t like to mention people who I deal with. He was one gentleman who I did speak with.”

This seems like a well thought out way to deal with a difficult situation, right? Murphy’s only in charge of this series because Colin Campbell can’t rule on games involving his son Gregory; next season Brendan Shanahan is taking over the reigns as it is. Murphy is a placeholder. He wanted to get it right, so he asked someone who used to hold the position. He used a valuable resource that was at his disposal.

Unfortunately, there’s much more just beneath the surface to this story. His honest answer certainly caught the attention of the Canucks, not because they are upset with the length of the suspension (which they are), but because of the resource Murphy consulted. You see, Brian Burke isn’t as far removed from the situation as one may think.

Matthew Sekeres from The Globe and Mail gives us a quick history lesson:

“Burke’s contract with the Canucks was not renewed after the 2003-04 season, and he is friends with Aquilini business rivals who unsuccessfully sued the Canucks chairman in 2005.

In 2009, the Canucks filed tampering charges with the NHL after Burke and Leafs coach Ron Wilson made public comments about Canucks players. The league fined the Leafs in October 2009, based on Wilson’s remarks that his team was interested in the Sedin twins, who were approaching free agency that summer. Burke later admitted that he regretted mentioning the players by name.”

From a Canucks’ perspective, here’s what they see: the NHL just handed down a stiff suspension (that they don’t agree with) and came to their judgment by asking one of their former employees that they’ve had continuing problems with. Losing Rome means their defensive corps takes another shot, days after learning that Dan Hamhuis won’t return for the rest of the series. No matter where you’re rooting interests lie, it doesn’t look good.

Repeatedly, the NHL has encountered claims that there are conflicts of interest at the league level. One of the reasons Colin Campbell recently stepped down from this very job is because he has a son in the league. This probably isn’t the kind of scene they wanted to start the post-Campbell era—yet another controversy with yet another conflict of interest.

To be clear, there’s no reason to think that Mike Murphy wouldn’t have come up with the same judgment without consulting with Brian Burke. The majority of people seem to think the suspension is more than they thought it would be—but they agree that it was a good message to send to get this type of hit out of the game. People are surprised, but the majority of people outside of Vancouver aren’t upset with the ruling. It’s an important difference to make.

Rome didn’t get a 4-game suspension because Mike Murphy talked to Brian Burke. He got the suspension because he hit Nathan Horton with a late cheap shot that the NHL has been trying to get rid of the game all season.

Tired of taunting? So is the NHL; Stiff penalties to come for future finger wagging

Milan Lucic, Alex Burrows

While there’s already been an insane amount of things to take away from the Stanley Cup finals, one of the more unique and silly things we’re going to remember is the taunting. It started when Alex Burrows got away with biting Patrice Bergeron in Game 1. That was followed up by Maxim Lapierre taunting Bergeron by holding his gloved hand in his face daring him to take a bite. Not to be outdone, Milan Lucic got a bit of revenge on Burrows himself by holding up his bare fingers in his face during a scrum daring the biter to take another shot.

When you add those things up and tack on the uncharacteristic taunting from Mark Recchi after scoring last night, you’ve got yourself a good old fashioned taunt-fest. If you’ve grown tired of these things though, you’ll be happy to know that future instances will be treated harshly.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun found out from NHL VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy that officials will be instructed to give out a two minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and assessed a ten-minute misconduct on top of that for any future instances of finger wagging in a scrum.

When asked during the press conference discussing Aaron Rome’s four game suspension for his hit on Nathan Horton about whether or not some of the side show antics and chippy play could’ve been avoided had they suspended Burrows for his initial bite, Murphy spoke his mind.

“We made the right decision on Alex Burrows. I spoke with Alex. But I’m not here to speak about that. I’ve dealt with that. We’ve moved on past that. We will deal with the issues of the series, the chippyness that’s going on.

“Kris King is in charge of the series. We’ve addressed it. We’ve addressed it with the teams as early as this morning. I will be speaking with both general managers and coaches before the day’s over about what we are seeing, the garbage that is going on, some of the issues.”

Murphy was stern about wanting to put a stop to the silly stuff that both teams are taking part in on the ice. After all, this is the league’s biggest stage and while dealing with a serious incident like the Rome hit and the games themselves, having this ancillary stuff distracts from the game even more. Sure we get a laugh out of it and sure it’s pretty amusing to see these guys acting so silly but hockey’s a serious thing when it comes to the Stanley Cup finals.