When the Washington Capitals claimed the Stanley Cup last month, for the first time in the team’s history, it was hard not to feel some of their excitement. For the people of Washington, D.C., at least, it was an obvious cause for celebration. But now the distant village of St. Clements, too, will have a reason to join in the euphoria.
It was native son Scott Murray, after all, who was part of the winning team. As the Capital’s lead goaltending coach this season, Murray’s contributions principally came from off the ice, but were no less important to securing that win.
Murray will be heading back home this summer to St. Clements, and what’s more, he’ll be bringing the Stanley Cup with him. Anyone hoping to meet Murray in person and get an eyeful of the cup will be able to do so on August 4 at the St. Clements’ Community Centre.
“I’m extremely excited to go back there to enjoy the day with people that I’ve been around for such a long time,” said Murray.
This year was his fifth with the Capitals as a coach, and his first as the team’s head goalie coach. This year also just so happened to be the Capitals’ first time to make it to the NHL finals since the 1998 season, exactly 20 years prior.
“Obviously, the ending was outstanding,” said Murray of the season’s culmination. “I was lucky because I had awesome, awesome people to work with. Braden Holtby and Pheonix Copley were the two goalies that I had in D.C., and I lucked out because they’re extremely good at playing goal, and they’re unbelievable people.”
Moving to St. Clements from Drayton when he was young, Murray grew up in the village in a typical way. He played minor hockey with the local team, the St. Clements Saints (before they amalgamated with the Wellesley into Twin Centre). He shifted over to Waterloo AAA in his Bantam years, and continued to excel as a goalie.
The goal, he says, in his youth, was always to reach the NHL – but as a player.
“For sure, my goal when I grew up was playing in the NHL. No question. And so you work for that and you think about it, you dream about it, and you keep trying to strive towards that,” he said.
At some point, however, Murray’s outlook shifted from playing to coaching.
“To be honest with you, once I was playing pro, I loved the game and then I kept playing as long as I could,” said Murray.
“But when I met my wife at the University of Windsor, and left to play pro in my first year after meeting her, I think you kind of realize at some point there’s priorities that come in life that become a little bigger than your playing career. And starting a family was one of them.”
So Murray decided to make the transition to being a coach. Fortunately, he says, he got into coaching early, training at goalie schools over the summer when his peers were working summer jobs. He had the training and the skills both on and off the ice, and when he looked at his priorities, at where he wanted to be and what he wanted to do, he made the call: he was going to stay off the ice.
Fast forward a few years and now Murray is now a coach for the winners of the 2018 Stanley Cup.
Asked if he ever wished he could be winning the games on the ice, instead of from the bench, and Murray admits that that may have been true at one point, in the beginning.
“I think back then it would have been something you look back, or if you’d watch it and your still playing, I think that you’d want to be that guy. And maybe when I first stopped playing, you know, you focus on that,” he said.
“But coaching, and especially the way it’s going now where it is more, you can get closer to playing,” he added. “It’s more of a partnership now. So it’s exciting; as fun as it is to win as a player, it’s just as exciting to win as a coach, just because you’ve built some relationships, not just with you staff, but also with the guys that are playing on the ice.”
Murray will be at the St. Clements Community Centre on August 4 with the Stanley Cup, where there will be snacks for sale and donations being requested. All the proceeds will go towards supporting minor hockey in the township.