Nov. 11, 2010
MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin’s Mike Eaves, a coach’s kid, can speak to a common thread among coach’s kids. Now, it might vary from family to family, coach to coach, kid to kid. But, in general, they’re more analytical.
Except for Jordy Murray.
“Which to me is a little bit of surprise,” Eaves said.
Murray’s father, Andy, is the former head coach of the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues. “A very detailed and hard-working coach, and that is very much Jordy’s personality,” Eaves said.
That’s what you would expect out of a coach’s kid; a reflection of the coach/father.
Now for the unexpected.
“I think of some other kids who are sons of coaches, and they’re more about seeing the game unfold,” Eaves said. “Jordy’s a hard guy first – ‘I’m going to get there, I’m going to do this...’
“His first instinct is to go hard. That’s who he is. We’re trying to work on that other thing you might see more from a coach’s kid – the analytical ability.”
Jordy Murray sees himself in the same light.
Light on the analysis, heavy on the effort.
“I work real hard, but I don’t always work smart,” said Murray, a junior from Faribault, Minn., who leads the Badgers in goal-scoring with eight, the second-most in the WCHA.
“That’s the way I am off the ice, too. I like giving things my full effort. Sometimes it’s better to step back a little and see the situation develop more. That’s something I’m learning, and working on.”
At a very young age, Jordy Murray had a very good teacher in Andy Murray.
“He always wanted me to be a hardworking player,” he said, “and that’s probably the biggest thing he instilled in me. Never give up on a play. Always finish your checks. Do all the little things.”
Eaves can relate. His father, Cecil, was a coach who was credited with starting up the Ohio State program. Eaves’ sons, Ben and Patrick, both played for somebody else: Boston College’s Jerry York.
Fact is, Mike Eaves and Andy Murray have some history together as coaches in the Philadelphia Flyers organization. In addition, Patrick Eaves skated with Brady Murray – Jordy’s older brother.
“We have the VCR tape of the boys’ first time playing in a hockey game,” Eaves said.
Jordy Murray has fond memories of tagging along with his dad to the rink. “It was awesome being a 9 or 10-year old and being able to skate with the LA Kings,” he said.
But there’s another side to being a coach’s kid. Last winter, the St. Louis Blues fired Andy Murray as their head coach – 40 games into the season, one week following Christmas.
“That was pretty tough on the family,” Jordy Murray said. “We loved St. Louis; the city and the team. But that’s the way the system works. We understand that. It’s not the first time he’s been fired.”
As soon as Andy Murray learned his fate, he got on the phone with his son.
“We talked about it, and he said, ‘Don’t worry about me, I’ll be at your game tonight,’” recalled Jordy, who scored a highlight-reel goal that night against Merrimack at the Kohl Center.
“Coaching is such a weird job and you never know what’s going to happen from one day to the next, especially coaching an NHL team. It’s a business – like a lot of things in life.”
While Andy Murray was coaching in Los Angeles, the family was still living in Faribault. As a result, Jordy grew up in the company of his brother, Brady, who played two years at North Dakota.
“My brother had just as much influence on me as my dad,” Jordy said, “because my dad was gone so much and Brady was always around. We don’t really play that similar on the ice.”
But they were virtually inseparable off the ice. Especially when they were training. “He treated me more like a teammate than a younger brother,” he said. “He was trying to push and get me better.”
Jordy’s brother is currently playing for a team in Switzerland. So is his sister, Sarah, who completed her eligibility at Minnesota-Duluth last season. Andy Murray is over there visiting.
“He has always been the first guy I call after a game,” Jordy said of his dad. “We’ll talk about how I played; things that are good and bad. We’ll talk hockey for awhile, but we’ll touch on everything.”
Since he’s not coaching, Andy Murray has been showing up on the road to watch the Badgers.
“The one comment he made after our first game in Denver (a 4-2 loss) was, ‘Well, you have a lot of teaching points to work with,’” Eaves said, laughing. “It was a really light and heartfelt comment because he has been in those shoes. Andy has been excellent. He knows the game very well. But he has been very professional about keeping his distance. In our conversations, we talk about life and families.”
Life is good for Jordy Murray. So is hockey. He needs only four more goals to match his total (12) for 39 games last season. In fairness, he was cast in a much different role as a sophomore because the Badgers had an abundance of skilled upperclassmen. Plus, he had to deal with an injury.
“I thought it was going to be my breakout year but it took me awhile to get going,” he said. “Once I started playing good hockey, I ended up hurting my shoulder. It was a little bit of a setback.
“This is a big year for me. I’m getting more ice time and coach (Eaves) has given me the opportunity to be in more situations. This is my chance, and I want to make the most out of it.”
So far, so good.
“What you see in Jordy Murray is a competitor,’’ said UW assistant coach Gary Shuchuk. “He just wants to compete and it shows up on the ice. He wants the puck.
“He’s one of those guys who will go in the corner, battle and come out with the puck. Or, he’ll go in front of the net against some pretty big defenseman, stand there and take a beating.
“You can tell he’s smart. You can tell he has been talking to his dad about how to play. He knows how to play hard. Watching his dad coach, he knows the game. You can tell he’s a coach’s kid.”