The story of Larry Murphy is one of perseverance and longevity. Quietly yet efficiently, Murphy has delivered one of the most productive careers of any blueliner in NHL history.
The story begins March 8, 1961 in Scarborough, Ontario. Murphy was regularly shuffled back and forth between playing forward and defense on his minor league teams. One season, when the only spot available on the team with which Murphy wanted to play was defense, he shrugged, accepted the role and played on the blueline from that day forward. It turned out to be an outstanding decision.
Murphy joined the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Major Junior Hockey League in 1978-79, and contributed six goals and 21 assists to an offense that not only took the Petes to the Memorial Cup, but collected the junior championship crown. The next season, with Larry finding his niche as a junior, he scored 21 goals and added 68 assists for 89 points. Peterborough advanced to the Memorial Cup finals for a second straight season, and Larry earned a berth on the OMJHL's First All-Star Team. Later, he was named to Team Canada's Under-Twenty World Championship squad.
Following his outstanding junior career, Larry Murphy was the fourth overall selection in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, going to the Los Angeles Kings with that franchise's first pick. Jumping straight from junior to the National Hockey League as a nineteen year old, Murphy proved that his skills were legitimate. In 1980-81, his freshman season, Murphy recorded 16 goals and 60 assists for 76 points. The assists and point totals set records for a rookie defenseman. Larry finished as the runner-up for the league's Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year in 1979-80, which was collected by 25 year old Peter Stastny of the Quebec Nordiques. Murphy's point total was fourth on the Kings that season, behind only the Kings' vaunted Triple Crown Line of Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor and Charlie Simmer.
In his second NHL season, Larry cracked the twenty-goal mark for the first of five times through his NHL career, finishing with 22. That total was fifth on the Kings in 1981-82, while his 66 points placed him fourth on the franchise's list that season.
Early in his fourth season with L.A., Larry was traded to the Washington Capitals. On October 18, 1983, the Kings sent Murphy to the Nation's Capital in exchange for Ken Houston and Brian Engblom. It turned out to be one of the most lopsided trades of all-time. While Houston and Engblom scored a combined 93 points over the remainder of their careers, Larry Murphy added another 1,009 points before retiring in 2001.
Larry Murphy continued his offensive exploits with Washington, earning his first selection to the NHL's All-Star Team in 1987. Murphy was selected to the league's Second Team after compiling 23 goals (a career best) and 81 points, the second highest total of his career.
On March 7, 1989, just before the playoff run, Larry was part of a blockbuster trade that saw him and Mike Gartner go to the Minnesota North Stars, while Dino Ciccarelli and Bob Rouse packed for Washington. Then, on December 11, 1990, Murphy again changed teams, going to Pittsburgh with Peter Taglianetti while Chris Dahlquist and Jim Johnson became North Stars. As a Penguin, Murphy's offense bloomed once again, and in his first season in black and gold, Larry and his Pittsburgh teammates collected the Stanley Cup; the first in franchise history. In 1991-92, Larry scored 21 goals and 77 points and helped the Penguins win a second straight Stanley Cup championship. During his stint with Pittsburgh, Larry was named to the NHL's Second Team All-Star in 1993, enjoying a career year with 85 points, compiled from his 22 goals and 63 assists. Murphy was named to the Second All-Star Team again in 1995 while playing with the Penguins.
During the summer of 1995, Larry Murphy was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in return for Dmitri Mironov and a second round draft selection. He spent nearly two tumultuous years in Toronto before the Detroit Red Wings secured the talented defenseman for their run for the Stanley Cup late into the 1996-97 season. The deal reinvigorated Murphy, and he played a significant role in the Red Wings' Stanley Cup victory that spring. Paralleling the feat accomplished by the Murphy-led Pittsburgh Penguins earlier in the decade, Larry was again part of back-to-back championships when the Red Wings claimed their second consecutive Cup in 1998. The forty-year-old Murphy retired in 2001 after a stellar 21-season career which included five 20-goal seasons, eleven 60-point seasons plus two Canada Cup championships (1987 and 1991).
Murphy left the game ranked second all-time in NHL games played and third all-time in assists and points by a defenseman. His astonishing totals include 287 goals and 929 assists for 1,216 points through 1,615 regular season contests. In 215 playoff games, Larry added 37 goals and 115 assists for 152 points.
In a November 2004 issue of The Hockey News, Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman stated, "Murphy was a smart, studious player. It was his understanding of what he could do that made him special." Bowman continued, "He formed a great partnership in Pittsburgh with Ulf Samuelsson and Detroit with (Niklas) Lidstrom."
Steady, reliable and tremendously gifted offensively, Larry Murphy was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004, his first year of eligibility.
*Bio courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame