PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE, MB –
Rinks around Southern Manitoba are buzzing over the prospect of a star player from our own backyard getting a shot at the NHL.
When the Winnipeg Jets lost one of their top players to injury, Tyler Murray was poised to make the most the opportunity.
“I’ve been dedicated to getting better and refining my game just in case something like this would happen,” Murray explained. “Even though I was never drafted I felt if I worked hard I could be one of those late bloomers who make it.” Murray was passed over in the bantam draft for the WHL and MJHL and never heard his name called in either of his NHL draft years.
A star in Portage Minor Hockey, regional AAA teams, high school, the Keystone Junior B Hockey League, Manitoba Junior Hockey League and Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League, Murray has increased his offensive output and learned to be a two hundred foot player while playing for several Senior A teams over the last four years.
“Right now I’m averaging about 1.4 goals per game and I’m like a plus 20 or something,” Murray said of his current season with the Oakville Seals of the Central Senior Hockey League. “I feel I’m playing my best hockey right now.”
Coaches and team mates agree Murray is ready to make the jump from Senior hockey to the NHL.
“We have lots of guys in our league who have been junior stars and a few who have played pro and right now Murr is the best player in the league and the biggest pain in the ass,” Player/Coach Robert Morse said. “During the last NHL lock out we had a couple of NHLers play with us and Murray is just as good as them and he doesn’t stop telling us.”
While Murray has not yet signed a professional try out contract with the Jets, he is confident he’ll get a look to replace the Jet’s injured top centre.
The Winnipeg Jets confirmed they have not been in talks with Murray about a try out or contract but Murray isn’t worried as he hopes to get something done with the club over the next couple days.
“They practise out of the Ice-Plex in Headingley so I’ve booked ice right before their next practice,” Murray shared. “Once they see what I can do I’ll likely just stick around for their practice and go from there.”
“Right now I’m a UFA(unrestricted free agent) so I can demand a lot on the open market,” Murray said. “I’m pretty sure the Jets will be fair with me.”
The development arc for Murray has been impressive. In AAA bantam for the Central Plains Capitals he put up a mere 12 points in 37 games, but by the time he made the Portage High School team he put up 27 points in 24 games. From there he was invited to Junior A camps but opted for the Manitoba Major Junior League’s Pembina Thrashers before being traded to the Stonewall Jets. Despite being held pointless in his first full season he managed to find a spot with the Neepawa Natives of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League where he put up 25 goals in 50 games. The following season he split his time between St. Malo of the KJHL and River East of the MMJHL. A veteran of almost every hockey league in Manitoba, Murray feels the adversity has prepared the 25 year-old for what is next.
“While other guys my age slow down and stop working out, I’ve ramped it up. I train 12 months a year and I rent my own ice 6 times a week. That’s why I’m so sick.”
The Oakville Seals will miss their rising star if he makes the big club.
“With him in the line up we’re pretty good,” team-mate Bradley Posner said. “Most of the guys don’t really give a shit if we win, but Murr is always going a hundred and twenty per cent. He kind of belongs at a higher level with that type of mindset. I get tired of listening to him chisel points so the break will be nice.”
“Sure I like to win,” Murray said. “But in senior hockey, a lot of times it’s the team that is sober who wins so a lot of the time I just go out for points.”
“I put together a little highlight package of my better goals this year and I’ll give that to Chevy(Jets G.M. Kevin Cheveldayoff) and Paul(Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice) after I skate with them but they probably won’t need it. I’ve been watching their goalies on TV and I’m pretty sure I can exploit them in pracky.”
“I’d love to make the NHL,” Murray shared. “Not only would it be a dream to play in the best league in the world but it would almost one hundred per cent guarantee I could find a really hot girlfriend.”
CIPP-TV’s “Get The Puck Out” will be following Murray’s progress with the Jets and provide viewers with updates.
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