Welcome to another new 1-on-1 “Face-Off” segment here on Murph On Ice! We will continue to bring you Murph’s conversations on a regular basis with some of the best hockey minds in the business!
Murph had the pleasure of chatting with a fellow Murphy, an NHL colleague, and a Boston Bruins beat writer recently for this feature. Enjoy his interview with James Murphy.
James Murphy covers the Bruins as a beat reporter for ESPNBoston.com and hosts the Hockey Primetime Show heard every Saturday 2-4 PM ET on NHL Home Ice XM 92 and Sirius 208.
Murph On Ice – Thanks for taking some time to join me from Boston here on the new website!
James Murphy – No problem, thanks for having me on!
MOI– What a ride you were on last season Jimmy! Following a team to a Stanley Cup championship must be a dream. What were the top few moments covering the Boston Bruins last year?
JM – My fellow Murph, it was an amazing ride last season. Many ups and downs through the regular season but the roller coaster that was the Bruins’ Cup run was simply surreal. I never imagined a team could go through so many peaks and valleys in the playoffs. I mean three Game 7 wins?! Three overtime wins in the opening round against their rivals, the Canadiens and coming back from 2-0 in that series and the finals were simply things I never thought I’d witness as a sports fan, let alone a reporter covering the game of hockey! I’d have to say the Montreal series as a whole and then the finals of course capped off by the Game 7 win were the highlights. The travel miles via car and plane in both series were insane and it was basically a whirlwind I am still recovering from!
MOI – For all the readers that haven’t had a chance to be in an NHL dressing room, what was the Bruins room like after Game 7 in the final last year?
JM– I am sad to say that thanks to the NHL — who always find ways to screw something up — I was not in the dressing room for the celebration after Game 7. Prior to Games 6 and 7, the league handed out fliers that said only media rightsholders from winning team would be allowed into winning dressing room. Then instead of sending a mass email or text, they changed their minds and spread word by mouth. I unfortunately was already fast at work typing away on my numerous post-game stories and video. I’m sure it was great in there but my colleague at ESPNBoston.com Joe McDonald made sure we had our own celebration of our hard work during the playoffs, buying a $320 (CDN) 24-pack of Molson Beer cans from the Rogers Arena suite manager! We wrote and polished that off to the last drop and then waited until the riots were cleared in downtown Vancouver to return to the hotel. The next morning we were up at 7 AM to drive to Seattle for our flight which we just made. Lots of details left out to that story but you get the picture!
MOI – In a city like Boston that has had so many great championship moments over the past 8 years with the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics, how important was it to the Bruins as a franchise to join that winning trend in Beantown?
JM – For the Bruins to finally get on the map in the Boston landscape again with this Stanley Cup win was immense for this franchise. Boston has always been a hockey town. Kids grow up on hockey and there has always been a strong and somewhat to a fault, loyal fan base that was never rewarded and until the post-lockout years taken advantage of by ownership with high ticket and concession prices that didn’t translate into a championship product on the ice. But now with the Patriots not the dynasty they were, the Red Sox in disarray and the Celtics not playing because of a seemingly pending NBA lockout, the Bruins couldn’t have won the Cup at better time. This city is theirs to take over and nothing short of another solid playoff run will do that.
MOI – Tim Thomas had a year for the ages! Was it fun to see his epic campaign night in and night out? Do the fans in Boston know how truly special it was?
JM – Your absolutely right about the season that Tim Thomas had and to be honest, I’m not sure it will settle in with the mainstream sports media here just how amazing he was because they don’t understand hockey. But the hockey media and fans do and after what Thomas had gone through to reach the top of the mountain, he is a cult hero here. His perseverance and dedication to his dream and team, playing almost ten years in the minors and overseas before finally getting a legit chance in the 2005-06 season is a story made for a movie and I’d be surprised if one isn’t already in the works. People still knock Thomas for his style but no one needs to “pump his tires” for him or those who paid attention to know what he accomplished.
MOI – In your travels and all the interviews over the years, what’s your favourite moment or interview behind a microphone to date?
JM– This is a very difficult one to answer here because thankfully I’ve had so many great moments on the job. Right now, I guess the one that comes to mind since we’re talking mostly about last season would be interviewing the now retired Mark Recchi on the ice in Vancouver after he won his third Stanley Cup and called it a career. Over the years, through mutual friends I had the pleasure and honor of getting to know this class act of a man and to be there with him for that magical moment was a thrill I’ll never forget. I hope one day I can look back on my career as a reporter like that and feel the pride and happiness I saw in him that night!
MOI – Who’s the best player skill wise you’ve covered in your time in hockey? Why?
JM – This is another very difficult one to answer but in no particular order, I’d have to say Joe Thornton, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and now as we’re seeing with his breakout season so far, Tyler Seguin. All have unique skills and god-given talent and a feel for the game that is a pleasure to watch.
MOI – Who’s the nicest guy with the media that you’ve dealt with?
JM – Well, as I told you above, Mark Recchi is all class and was always accessible to the media, win or lose. He loved to just sit around after a practice and talk hockey and life. I learned a lot from him and he made my job a lot easier. Similar to Recchi, is Shawn Thornton. While he is not as skilled on the ice, he is skilled in people skills and is sincere in his answers to questions and in his general day-to-day actions and probably has one of the best sense of humors of anyone I know. I’d also have to look back to Glen Metropolit, Brian Rolston, Nick Boynton and Mike Knuble as guys who like Thornton and Recchi had class and always made you laugh.
MOI – If you take the 2011 Boston Bruins, and stack them up against the Bruins Championship teams from the past, does that 2011 team have a chance against Bobby Orr’s 1972 Bruins?!
JM – Unfortunately for the 2011 Boston Bruins, I think if we matched them up in a video game, they would get absolutely smoked by the 1972 and 1970 Bobby Orr-led Bruins. There was just too much skill on those teams and I’d even take them against the Red Wings, Oilers and many of the Canadiens dynasty teams. But one thing the 2011 Bruins could match up in against those 1970 and 1972 teams was heart and perseverance. They may even have them beat in that! They by no means should have their accomplishments diminished when comparing them. There was just too much skill on those teams and specifically in Orr!
MOI – Thanks again Murph, always a pleasure to catch-up with you and chat about the B’s!
JM – No problem Murph, anytime mate, keep in touch!
“Face-Off” is a regular feature here on Murph On Ice. Keep an eye out for Murph’s next 1-on-1 as he talks all things hockey with James Sharman.
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