Connor Murphy is one blue line defender you do not want to come across. At 6’3″ he is a towering addition to any blue line he’s on. While suiting up for the OHL’s Sarnia Sting for the past two seasons, he’s notched up 44 points in 68 games. He previously played for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and in that same year was selected 20th overall by the Phoenix Coyotes. This past winter he scored the overtime game winner of the gold medal match up at the 2013World Juniors in Ufa, Russia.
You may even recall his father, Gord Murphy, a bruising defenceman who spent 14 seasons in the National Hockey League between the Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers and Atlanta Thrashers. He is currently assistant coach to Kevin Dineen of the Florida Panthers.
I jumped at the chance at this opportunity to go into the mind of a first round drafted player.
March Hockey: You were drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round of the 2011 Entry Draft, how did you mentally prepare to go into an event of that stature?
Connor Murphy: The preparation was all in the NHL Combine off the ice, in games during the season, and in the interviews with each team. So once the draft came, it was all about enjoying the experience and soaking it all in. I always watched the draft growing up, so it was pretty surreal being there with my family and around teammates of mine.
MH: What was it like to hear your named called?
CM: Hearing my name called was a dream come true. I’m extremely fortunate to be a part of a first class organization like Phoenix. From my first interview with them, I hoped that they might pick me, making it even more exciting. Being up on the stage, becoming a part of the Coyotes organization, and having my family there made it a day I’ll never forget.
MH: You won gold this year with Team USA at the World Juniors in Ufa, Russia this year. What was the pressure like going into the gold medal game?
CM: Going into the gold medal game against Sweden was very nerve racking. My roommate was Alex Galchenyuk, and the night before the game I think we got three or four hours of sleep and no nap the next day. We would switch from watching Family Guy, to reading, to laying in the dark, to talking. We were so excited and couldn’t stop thinking about the chance to win the tournament the next day. Other than nerves and excitement, I don’t think we felt much pressure because not many people expected us to win the tournament going into it. So we just stuck to our game and played as hard as we could.
MH: How much of an influence was your Dad, Gord on your style of play?
CM: I think my Dad was a major influence on my style of play. Every now and then someone will tell me how much I look like him on the ice. My Mom and Dad have always supported me and given me teaching as well as being great role models that I could follow. My Dad had played threw all the levels that I have been at, so he has been great to talk and get advice from.
MH: In your opinion, who is the strongest player you’ve played against thus far in your career? How about strongest player you’ve played with on Sarnia?
CM: The strongest player I’ve played against thus far in my career was probably Brandon Saad in playoffs two years ago. I was matched up against him and he was hard to play against. He was very strong on his feet and the puck seemed to find him. Alex Galchenyuk was probably the strongest player I played with in Sarnia. He was consistently a dominant player in our games and could always be relied upon to score a goal or make a nice play when our team needed it.
MH: Where would you like your career to go from here?
CM: I would like to play for the Coyotes. I have been working towards that goal and look forward to my first training camp this September. So I hope to play my best, and work my hardest to earn a spot in Phoenix. If not there, I hope to earn a spot and work my hardest and continue to develop in the AHL with the Portland Pirates.
MH: If you could play with any player past or present, who would it be and why?
CM: If I could play with any player I would either play with my Dad or Niklas Lidstrom. My Dad because I would want to know what he was like as a teammate and to play with. Lidstrom because he was my favorite player, and I enjoyed watching and learning from the way he played.
March’s note: Well Connor, I hope you enjoy you’re first NHL training camp this season and I’ll be looking forward to following your career, where ever it may take you. Hope this is the first of many segments we’ll get to do. Cheers!