How the Penguins supported a grieving Matt Murray

When the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2016, goaltender Matt Murray celebrated in late July in his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario, a city of about 100,000 sitting at the northern side of Lake Superior. A small group of friends, family and former coaches and trainers gathered at a barbecue restaurant Murray’s cousin owns. Before eating, Murray’s father, James, showed everyone an 8-inch replica of the Stanley Cup constructed from tin foil. Matt had made it for Father’s Day when he was a child, and James had kept it ever since.

Anyone who knows Matt knows he considers his father, nfl nike jersey cheap who owned a small law firm in Thunder Bay, his hero. James Murray wasn’t much of an athlete; he only picked up skating in university. But he took pride in his son. Every summer beginning when Matt was 10, he and his father would fly to Toronto together for a weeklong goaltending camp. In the NHL, Murray proudly detailed his helmet with Dutch and Scottish flags — honoring his family heritage — and his parents’ initials.

Murray, 23, entered this season shouldering towering expectations; the Penguins are looking to become the first team in more than three decades to win three straight Cups. Meanwhile, management parted with the beloved and still capable Marc-Andre Fleury — a No. 1 pick who won 536 games (and three Stanley Cups) over 13 seasons in Pittsburgh — to signal full trust in the young goaltender. Neither Murray nor the Penguins began the season as they hoped. Murray missed two weeks in November with a lower-body injury. The first three months felt like a post-championship malaise. (In a thorny twist, Fleury and the upstart Vegas Golden Knights have outperformed Pittsburgh.)

This January, James Murray fell ill and was airlifted to a hospital in London, Ontario. The Penguins were in Anaheim on Jan. 16, preparing for a three-game California road trip when Matt Murray received the news: His father had died.128

When Murray found out about his father’s death, the Penguins were in fifth place in the Metropolitan Division and not in a playoff position. And yet the team didn’t hesitate to tell their No. 1 goaltender to take time off. They offered Murray several options to get from Anaheim to Thunder Bay. They said, Don’t worry about hockey right now. Come back when you’re ready. Murray was gone for six days.

“There is no doubt, none, that it was the right thing to do,” star teammate Sidney Crosby said. “It’s something tough to go through. I can’t imagine how hard it was for him. He’s pretty quiet as it is. As teammates, we tried to be supportive the best we can. Whenever he was ready we’d be there.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

The Penguins are on the brink of elimination Monday night when they host the Washington Capitals in Game 6. Down 3-2, Pittsburgh will once again turn to Murray (.905 save percentage, 2.49 goals-against average in the playoffs) to soldier through and shine in the playoffs — a hallmark of his career thus far. His story is a reminder of the humanity in hockey.