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WHL ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: RYAN MURRAY

It wasn’t long ago that Ryan Murray was a fresh-faced 16-year-old making his Western Hockey League debut with the Everett Silvertips.  Four years later, the White City, SK, product is taking in the rookie experience all over again, only this time he’s getting his feet wet as a first-year player in the NHL with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Silvertips’ first-round pick, ninth overall, in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft, Murray broke into the WHL in 2009-10, and immediately made a big impact on the Silvertips’ blue line, netting five goals and 27 points with a +33 rating in 55 games.

During his four-year WHL career, Murray established himself as one of the top defencemen in the League, being named to the WHL Western Conference Second All-Star Team on two occasions.  He also suited up Canada’s national junior team in 2012, winning a Bronze medal, and even accomplished the rare feat of playing for Canada’s Men’s national team at the IIHF World Championships before even being drafted to the NHL.

Considered a blue chip prospect throughout his WHL career, Murray was the second player chosen in the 2012 NHL Draft when his name was called by the Blue Jackets.  Though his NHL debut was delayed due to missing the majority of the 2012-13 campaign with an injury, Murray made the jump to the Blue Jackets to start the 2013-14 season and hasn’t looked back.

CATCHING UP WITH…RYAN MURRAY

On realizing his dream of playing in the NHL…
“It’s been great.  A really big learning experience for me, for sure.  It’s funny because you spend your whole life working towards a goal, and to finally be there is a good feeling.  I have to keep working hard to make sure I stay here, though.  When you play against guys like Sidney Crosby, and you line up against him, it’s a definitely a cool season.”

On getting used to life in the NHL…
“It’s definitely a change.  You get used to playing games every two or three days, and you’re traveling a lot.  The travel is good, though, because you can be in so many different cities in a week.  But, being able to fly makes it a lot easier. 

On adjusting to the NHL level of play…
“Having gone through last year, rehabbing the injury, I had to get used to playing the game again.  I wanted to make sure I got my game back on track and shake the rust off, first.  There is a big difference playing at this level because of the skill level – it’s the best League in the world – and you have to be ready to play every night, every shift, or guys can make you look pretty foolish.  Everything happens that much faster at this level.”

On developing his game in the WHL…
“There are a lot of options out there for kids, for sure and my dad and I looked at other options. But, playing in Everett was awesome.  When I got there as a 16-year-old, we had a lot of new players on the back end, and I was given a great opportunity for ice time on the back end.  I got the chance to play with some great players during my time, and the coaching is very good.  To get a chance to play at that high level at a young age I think really helped set me up.  I always wanted to make it to the NHL, and I remember someone telling me that, if you want to make it to the NHL, play in the Western hockey League.”

On his younger brother, Troy, breaking into the WHL as a rookie with the Kootenay Ice…
“I try to keep up, but I’m so busy all the time that it can be tough to follow.  I usually get word from my dad on how (Troy) is doing, and he keeps me updated on what’s happening.  I’m really proud of him for making the jump to the WHL.”

On keeping up with the Silvertips…
“The last couple years, we didn’t do so well, so it’s great to see them having a good year and playing well now.  My buddy Josh Winquist is having a great season, and I try and keep up with him.  We were the only 16-year-olds in Everett the year I came into the League, and we became really good friends, so I try to stay in touch and keep up with him.  It’s great to see him playing on a winning team, and I’m pretty happy for him.”

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