“It was a great opportunity for me to come back and play for the Wolves, especially with Grant Mulvey, a very good friend of mine, coaching the team,” said Murray. “I also had a really good relationship back in those days, and I still do today, with Don Levin and Buddy Meyers, so it was an easy decision to play for them.”
After spending all but eight games of his professional career in the NHL prior to the 1996-97 season, Murray didn’t know what to expect going into the International Hockey League. He found out very early in his Wolves career that there wasn’t as big of a talent separation between the NHL and IHL as some might think.
“I just had never played in the minors before that year with the Wolves and I was pleasantly surprised at how good the league was,” Murray recalled. “There were a lot of players that had spent some time in the NHL that were scattered throughout the IHL and I just thought that the play was good. It was a very skilled level and a lot of players in the “I” at that time deserved to be playing in the NHL, but because of the numbers situation they were playing down a level.”
The 1996-97 Wolves squad relied on its veteran leadership, headed by Murray, goaltender Wendell Young and defenseman Phil Bourque, all three of whom had claimed the Stanley Cup earlier in their careers. Murray was chosen to serve as captain by Mulvey that season, making him only the second player in franchise history to don the “C.”
“Being named captain was special because it was something Grant bestowed upon me and I was very honored that he asked me to do it,” Murray said. “I took great pride in that role and I certainly enjoyed it, but there were many leaders on that team, not just me.”
Although Murray wasn’t able to captain the Wolves to a Turner Cup championship in his one year with the club, he certainly relished being a part of the Wolves and came away impressed with the organization as a whole.
“It was just a really fun year for everyone involved,” Murray remembered. “Whether it was sharing stories on the bus, spending time with teammates away from the rink, or just playing hockey, I really had a blast that season.”
“I also got to see first hand how the Wolves run their organization. It is the example of the way a franchise should be run. People there are treated professionally and with a lot of respect, and that is why players love to come play for Chicago.”