By Mike Commito
The Stanley Cup will be making its way to Thunder Bay this year. After an impressive post-season campaign by Matt Murray and the Pittsburgh Penguins, it appears that Lord Stanley’s chalice is destined for the Sleeping Giant. Murray stepped into the breach for the Penguins and proved his mettle throughout the playoffs. Backstopping Pittsburgh to the Cup, Murray matched Patrick Roy, Ron Hextall, and Cam Ward for the most post-season wins by a rookie goaltender. Pretty impressive, but now he’s just looking for a fresh Persian. The Walleye spoke to the Stanley Cup champion about his playoff experience and his plans for the summer.
The Walleye: Now that it’s all over, can you reflect on the whirlwind that was the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Matt Murray: To be honest, it kind of feels like I just went to the rink a couple of months ago, after I got called up, and I just woke up two months later and we have the Cup. It just went by so fast. It was pretty crazy throughout. I was definitely very nervous. There’s a lot of excitement. Obviously this was the first time I’ve been through anything like that, so I think that made it go a little bit faster. But it was crazy. I just tried to take it one day at a time and just play whenever I got the chance. It still just doesn’t feel like it’s real.
TW: You always seemed so poised in the post-season, especially after defeats. You came back refocused and went 6-0 in games following a loss. How did you prepare for those?
MM: You always want to have a good game after a loss. You never want to lose two in a row—well, you never want to lose at all, but you never want to lose two in a row, especially in the playoffs. I think if you look at any Stanley Cup champion team, they probably don’t have a whole lot of back-to-back losses, so we knew that was important. That’s something I focused on—you always want to have a good bounce back game.
TW: Settle an argument for us. What is the most quintessential Thunder Bay thing you could eat or drink from the Stanley Cup?
MM: I think you’ve got to go with some kind of alcohol when you’re drinking out of the Cup because you’ve got to celebrate. So I would say the Sleeping Giant Brewery.
TW: Any kind in particular?
MM: I’ve only had it a couple times, but I had it at The Foundry a couple of years ago. I don’t remember which kind I had, I’m sure they are all really good. I don’t really discriminate… you can’t really have a bad beer.
TW: Any plans on what you’re going to do when you get your visit with the Cup?
MM: I’ve thought about it, but I can’t say I’ve come to any real conclusions yet. I don’t know where I’m going to bring it or what I’m going to do with it. I definitely want to give the people the chance to come see it and share in the experience. Your hometown is a pretty special place, especially when you’re a hockey player growing up in a city like Thunder Bay, so I definitely want to share that with the community.
TW: So you’re celebrating now, and the World Cup of Hockey is just around the corner, but do you have any big plans for this summer besides hockey?
MM: I think you need to take a mental break from the game, so I definitely plan to stay away from hockey for a little bit at the start of the summer. Hopefully go on a nice vacation, just relax and get away from everything. Turn my phone off for a little while and get away from all the distractions. But once the break’s over, it’s right back into game mode and training mode. I won’t have that much time this summer, so I’ll have to train that much harder in the short time that we have. I think September 4 is when we need to report for the World Cup—that’s almost right around the corner when you think about it. It will be a short summer, but the World Cup is going to be a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to that. But in the meantime, I think we need to celebrate this one first.