Murphy makes history in debut

Whirlwind Tuesday ends with goaltender in NHL record books

calexander@newsobserver.comDecember 8, 2011 

For Mike Murphy, it all happened in a flash.

With the Carolina Hurricanes trailing the Calgary Flames 6-3 in the third period Tuesday at the Scotiabank Saddledome, Canes coach Kirk Muller decided to pull starting goaltender Cam Ward. Muller walked down the bench toward No. 70, the rookie, Murphy.

"He tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'I'm going to put you in,' " Murphy said Wednesday. "I said, 'All right.' "

Just like that, Murphy was in the game, making his NHL debut.

"An incredible experience," he said.

Murphy, 22, would face just two shots in his 8 minutes, 37 seconds on the ice as the Canes lost 7-6. He also would become a part of NHL history.

Murphy was pulled for an extra attacker late in the game and was at the bench when Jarome Iginla scored an empty-net goal with one minute and nine seconds left in regulation to push the Flames' lead to 7-4. But the Canes' Chad LaRose and Eric Staal both scored in the final minute, making Iginla's goal the winner - and Murphy the losing goalie.

Canes officials checked with the Elias Sports Bureau, which confirmed Murphy is the first NHL goalie to lose a game before allowing his first goal. Not that he seemed to mind.

"The eight or so minutes that I played seemed to go by a lot quicker than eight minutes," Murphy said. "It may have only been eight minutes but it was eight minutes of living out a dream.

"I'm the backup goalie, so you go in and do what you can for the team. You don't like that your team is losing. Cam Ward is such a great goalie and great person, I'll take a loss for him any day."

Murphy was recalled Tuesday from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League after backup goalie Brian Boucher was injured Monday afternoon during practice in Calgary. It was Murphy's first NHL call-up.

Murphy said he was up at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday to grab a flight, made two connections and got into Calgary in the early afternoon. He said he checked his cell phone after the game to find 68 Blackberry instant messages and another 30 texts. He said his Facebook message inbox on was full.

Several were from Checkers teammates. Defenseman Michal Jordan, one of Murphy's closest friends on the team, said he was so emotional about Murphy's debut he couldn't even tweet anything Tuesday night.

"It's great having all that support," Murphy said. "I've always been happy for the guys when they get called up."

While it was all a thrill, Murphy said the fact his first NHL game came under Muller added even more to the experience. Both are natives of Kingston, Ont.

"I've known Kirk Muller since I was 12 or 13," Murphy said. "I'll always remember he was the coach who gave me my first chance to play. It was awesome."

Alexander: 919-829-8945

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service