Starting goalie: Devan Dubnyk
Starting goalie: Semyon Varlamov
Starting goalie: Devan Dubnyk
Starting goalie: Semyon Varlamov
When Jamie Benn met Kendall Murray after Saturday’s morning skate, he left her with the promise that he would score that night against the Colorado Avalanche.
Eight months ago, the idea of Murray standing there as the Stars captain made that promise seemed unbelievable.
On Feb. 10, Murray, 16, was the sole survivor of a car accident in Plano, Texas that killed two of her friends, Lilly Davis and Sam Sacks. She was burned on 25 percent of her body, and some of her injuries included two broken arms, a broken pelvis and a skull fracture.
Two months later, as Murray lay in her hospital bed at Medical City Plano still unable to walk, Benn and Tyler Seguin, her two favorite players, made a surprise visit. The news about the accident had reached the Stars organization and the players jumped at the opportunity to stop by and say hello.
The smile on her face as she saw who was walking into her room was one that those inside will never forget. The running joke throughout the 45-minute visit was that everyone could tell when Murray was getting excited because her heart-rate monitor would spike.
“When those two walked in, it just shot up to 170,” Murray told Pro Hockey Talk Tuesday afternoon with a laugh.
Before Benn and Seguin said their goodbyes, they told Murray they wanted to see her at American Airlines Center this season once she was back on her feet and walking again. The day before that visit she had started the process of learning to walk again, a she would ultimately accomplish.
Not long before Benn made his promise, Murray fulfilled hers by walking around arena during Saturday’s morning skate. There she saw Seguin again and got to chat with Stars general manager Jim Nill. She later would meet up with Benn when her told her his plans for the game.
“I’ll score for you. I’ll make sure it’s for you.”
In the opening minute of the second period, Benn delivered on his promise, with Murray’s other favorite Star playing a role in the game’s first goal. After an Avalanche turnover in the neutral zone, Seguin fired a pass off the side boards which was picked by Benn at center ice leading to a 2-on-1. Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson gave the captain enough space for him to then fire a wrist shot blocker side on Semyon Varlamov.
Murray, wearing her dad’s Neal Broten Minnesota North Stars jersey, watched in disbelief.
“I was like ‘Oh my God, he did it,’” Murray said, “That’s actually for me and I knew that it was for me. It was so crazy. It was the first goal, too. It made the Stars be ahead in the game which was awesome.”
To top off an already memorable day, Seguin would score at the end of the second period to give the Stars a 2-0 lead. He would later complete a Gordie Howe Hat Trick after scrapping with Patrik Nemeth in the third period. The pucks from both goals were retrieved and given to Murray as a gift from the players after the game.
“That was just icing on the cake. Great to have both of them score and have Tyler get in his first NHL fight,” Murray said. “Quite a game to watch.”
The Murray family attends a handful of Stars games every season and will also be in attendance for a December game in Minnesota against the Wild while in town visiting family. Given that Benn is 100 percent in goal promises, he may have to make a few more to Kendall this season. Or at least Seguin could get in on the fun, too.
Eight months after the accident, Murray is doing well. A junior in high school, she’s back in regular classes with her friends and even attended homecoming last month. Twice a week she’s in occupational therapy and physical therapy and seeing progress. The tear in her carotid artery is fully healed and nerve damage in her hand is slowly improving. At the end of October she’ll be discharged from PT, marking another milestone on her journey to full recovery.
“I’m coming down to the end of it all which is nice so I can get back to my normal high school life,” she said.
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Entering play on Saturday night Dallas Stars forward Tyler Seguin had never been in a fight in the NHL.
That changed in the third period against the Colorado Avalanche when he dropped the gloves with former teammate Patrik Nemeth.
Not one of the more intense fight you will ever see but these are two players that really don’t get involved in this stuff very often. In fact, this was also Nemeth’s first career fight in the NHL (or at any level of hockey according to his hockeyfights.com profile).
It was also a notable fight not only because it was Seguin and Nemeth’s first in the NHL, but also because it helped the former complete the Gordie Howe Hat Trick after assisting on Jamie Benn‘s goal in the first period to open the scoring, then scoring one of his own to extend the Stars’ lead to 2-0.
With two seasons of at least 22 goals, Matt Read seems like the sort of player who should be able to secure an NHL job.
Maybe he’ll be back with the Philadelphia Flyers again at some point in 2017-18, but he’s slated to begin the season in the AHL after the Flyers loaned Read to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Tuesday. This comes after Read cleared waivers.
The 31-year-old will still cost the Flyers quite a bit of money in cap space, even though he’s playing in the AHL.
It all feels like such a waste, doesn’t it?
Really, though, Read is just the latest in a slew of players who seem too good for the AHL but can’t quite land with a team in the NHL. In Read’s case, it’s almost certainly a matter of cost. But it’s staggering that, even with the number of teams growing to 31, some quality players can’t seem to find work.
(Even in a salary retention scenario, it might be tough to work out a taker for Read.)
This is also part of the reason why people get a little grumpy when the likes of Tanner Glass and Matt Hendricks continue to land one-way contracts. Just consider some of the quality players who either couldn’t get a contract at all or find themselves in the AHL:
Yup, the NHL can be cruel, especially to players who don’t generate reputations as “grit guys” and/or “leaders in the room.”
Read finding himself in the AHL comes down to a number of factors; to some extent, it’s a testament to the young talent Flyers GM Ron Hextall has amassed, with the likes of Nolan Patrick making the cut.
Still, there are teams that will put some paltry players on the ice in 2017-18, and fans may grumble when they consider the talent that’s either stuck in the AHL or without an easy path to the NHL altogether.
The Malcolm Subban era ended before it ever really began with the Boston Bruins. NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty and others report that the Vegas Golden Knights scooped the goalie off of waivers on Tuesday.
In 2012, the Bruins selected Subban with the 24th pick of that draft. The 23-year-old only managed to make two brief (according to hockeydb, both strangely 31-minute) appearances at the NHL level.
Subban’s AHL work has leveled off a bit in the last two seasons after putting up pretty impressive save percentage stats in both 2013-14 and 2014-15. This just about confirms that Zane McIntyre is the “goalie of the future” in Boston – beyond Tuukka Rask, of course – instead.
Perhaps he’s mostly a victim of the numbers game: there are only 31 starting jobs and only 62 spots for goalies at this level. In claiming Subban, the Golden Knights now have several options in net, yet it might actually be easier for the former first-rounder to find solid footing in Vegas.
It’s possible that Subban needed a fresh start. That’s a refrain from many observers after the Colorado Avalanche claimed defenseman Patrik Nemeth from the Dallas Stars.
The Avalanche need NHL defensemen, so that could be a symbiotic relationship.
Stay tuned for some thoughts on Read later today.