Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Joe Murphy Autograph Card

I've featured Joe Murphy before, but at that time, I focused more on his time with the Edmonton Oilers, which was mostly rooted in success, including a starring role in the team's 1990 Stanley Cup championship as well as career-highs for goals (35), assists (47) and points (82) in 1991-92.

Today, I'd like to focus more on his, uh, eccentricities - if not just outright oddball behaviour. The 1999-2000 timeframe was particularly intense, as it started with his attending the New York Rangers' training camp, then signing with the Boston Bruins midway through camp without giving the Rangers a chance to match the offer, with someone from the team's staff allegedly throwing Murphy's equipment in the Hudson River in retaliation.

It didn't take long before he started telling his Boston teammates off, calling them "heartless" and "out of shape", and yelling at head coach Pat Burns in the locker room and on the bench, leading to the team suspending him for insubordination - which was actually negotiated down from having his contract terminated, as was the Bs' first reflex.

After a week on waivers, Washington Capitals GM George McPhee (now in charge of the Vegas Golden Knights' hockey operations) gave him his final chance to play in the NHL. He was so-so to finish the 1999-2000 season (13 points in 29 games in Washington), but 14 games into the 2000-01 campaign (1 goal, 5 assists and 6 points), he and a few teammates went out on the town after a team supper and Murphy got in trouble by insisting a specific lady get in his limousine and ride back with him to his hotel room, and - the lady refusing - probably out of fear of getting raped in the car in addition to just not wanting to; her male companion then struck Murphy with a blow to the head. With a bottle. Murphy was demoted to the AHL, refused to report, and went into a year-long legal battle, claiming Workers' Comp because the event happened while he was traveling for work. He lost both the case and the appeal.

He'd weirded out before, piling up his equipment into a pyramid with his sticks on top in a triangle shape, telling teammates and trainers not to undo his pile because "The mother ship's coming, and I want to make sure I'm ready to get on board".

Or when he told "Iron" Mike Keenan - of all coaches - "Joe-Joe is tired" when it was his turn to hit the ice. Yes, the guy who was calling the 1999-2000 Bruins (Joe Thornton, Anson Carter, captain Ray Bourque, Steve Heinze) lazy and out of shape was a flake and a sloth.

It's no wonder, really, that he had trouble finding work after a 25-goal season with the San Jose Sharks in 1998-99...

Speaking of which, this is what he looked like in teal:
That's the (silver) signed insert version of card #271 from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set, which he signed on-card in thin black sharpie, adding his uniform number (17) at the end. That was not a good look for the Sharks, by the way.

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