Nicknames you’ll no longer see

25 07 2010

78-79toppsmurdoch
I’ve had this post half-finished for about a year now.  I believe it was part of a box of cards I received from my brother, but I can’t be certain anymore and I have no idea why I never finished it.  With posting time so light, this may be the best chance you get for something new over the course of the next few days.  Enjoy.

Slowly but surely the gaps in my late 70’s hockey sets are filling in.  Anything before the 76/77 set is a bit of a wasteland, which is too bad since I love the 72/73 and 73/74 sets.  If I ever got my focus down, I could probably nail those down, too.  But there’s just so many sets to chase, so instead I’m like a dog with four tails – over eager to catch them all or to warn out to chase any of them.

All of this is too bad, since it keeps me out of touch with the history of former Ranger greats. Before receiving this card, for example, I’d never heard of Don Murdoch, who for some reason earned the nickname “Murder” from the fans.  Sadly, it was another vice that ruined Murdoch’s career. 

In 1977, Murdoch was found with 4.8 grams of cocaine in a Toronto airport.  The courts fined him $400 and gave him a suspended sentence, but the league came down harder and suspended him for the entire 78/79 season.  The suspension was lifted early after Murdoch proved he was clean, but this coupled with injuries would keep him from realizing the potential he showed at the beginning of his career.

And what a beginning it was, too.  After two 80 goal season in the WCJHL, Murdoch scored 8 goals in his first 3 NHL games for the Rangers, and was well on his way to establish the rookie record when an ankle injury slowed him down.  His quick success made him a celebrity, and he was often seen in bars soaking up both praise and alcohol from his fans.  That, in turn helped lead to his chemical dependence.

While Murdoch’s career didn’t turn out as he hoped, he was able to use his disappointment to his advantage as a scout:

When I was scouting and recruiting, I ran into kids I was going to talk to that I knew they had off-ice problems. I used to go tell them, `Listen, you better get it together or this is where you’re going to be.’ They would say, `What the hell does this guy know?’ I would tell them my story. Once I told them my story, that I should have played 15 years in the NHL but my career was cut short because I didn’t focus, I can see the look in their eyes like, `holy cow, this guy is the real deal right here.’

While Murdoch never “made it” as a hockey player, it’s nice to see that he’s using his mistakes to help keep younger kids from following his path.

But I still don’t get the nickname “Murder.” I am pretty sure you’ll never see anyone in sports with that nickname again.

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One response

26 07 2010
Ted

Isn’t it kind of like calling Vanbiesbrouck “Beezer”? I know there must be other people with that format nickname but I’m not thinking of any off of the top of my head…..

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