A Conversation with Larry Murphy
On first coming to Los Angeles:
I remember it vividly, the bus ride. We started camp at Victoria, British Columbia for a couple days then came down to L.A. The trip from LAX to the Forum was unbelievable, because I’d had no experience , no exposure to California. I just remember that this feels so different and what would hockey be like. I thought what would hockey be like in an environment where it’s warm and there’s no snow. And it turned out for me, and it’s still the case here with the Kings, it’s a vibrant franchise because there’s this hardcore fan, hockey fans. I mean the Kings were never on the front page of the LA Times, but you had this group of fans who kept the team alive and were passionate and before I knew it I felt very comfortable playing here in Los Angeles.
On how the Kings helped his career:
Like anybody in the sport, with time and experience you grow. You try to improve. That’s always been my motto, was always try to be the best player you can be. Even to the day I retired I always thought I could improve. I went to different teams. It started here in LA. What really helped my career was Bob Berry was coaching the Kings at the time. We had a real strong team. The Triple Crown line was going good. We faltered in the playoffs, but I think we finished third or fourth overall in the league and I was playing a lot. Bob had a lot of confidence in me and for any young kid it’s the key. I learned quickly you have to do something well, you have to bring something to the table. There’s no sense- if you’re just mediocre, middle of the road, fade into the crowd, you’re not going to make it. You’re not going to make a career in the NHL and Bob Berry kind of brought that out in me and basically put me in a role where I was playing a lot of minutes, being a factor out there. I couldn’t think of a better scenario for my career to start than here in the Kings.
On his NHL rookie defenseman scoring record:
I take a lot of pride in that. Every year, [at the] 20, 30 game mark of the season I always look to see what rookie defenseman- if there is anyone threatening to break the record. I take pride in that, in my accomplishments. It was just a tremendous ride here. This team was set up perfectly for the type of style I played and I was able to gain confidence. And the rookie record, I don’t want to lose it. Anybody that says about a league record, that they don’t mind about losing it, I think they’re lying. It’s kind of a mark and you hope it lasts as long as possible.
On what it means to be a King:
I was here three years. I was disappointed when I was traded from LA. I didn’t know why to be honest. Things happen. I moved on to Washington for another challenge. I was talking about that earlier, I was here just that little time, as you say, but the when the Kings won the cup two years ago and it’s funny. I took some pride in the fact that hey, I was here at one time. I was that [small] part of the Stanley Cup.
On which of his four Stanley Cups is his favorite:
I think the first one, just the fact that it was the first one. It’s like anything the first time, it’s the most special. I played – I don’t know how many years, I played I guess 12 or 13 years – without really getting a real good, close kick at the can, and then all the sudden. You almost get yourself in the mindset that this is never going to happen and then you break through and the first one is always the one that you remember. After that though, after you win one time the mindset changes. All of the sudden you realize what it’s like to win and it’s a lot harder to lose. Every year that I didn’t win the cup from that first year, that I was a part of that team, you just know what you’re missing out on. Losing became much more disappointing after winning that first cup.
On his exit from Los Angeles:
It was actually a contract issue that did me in. I just said I don’t want to play for this. I wasn’t sitting out, I was still playing. I said I was real disappointed. I was in a situation where I was looking to re-sign. I’d just come off my first contract and I wanted to sign another three or four years and ended up going to arbitration. I said I don’t want on a one-year deal, I want to sign a contract. George Maguire, the general manager, said it’s not going to happen here and then it was like two days later and I was gone. That right there, I learned the business of the game too, that’ all part of it. The harsh reality is there’s more than just going out there and competing. There’s also the business side of things.
On the tough travel schedule:
Commercial [flights] and it was a balanced schedule. It was horrendous. And that was a huge disadvantage for the Kings, because it seemed like every road trip we’re getting on the plane and we’re heading east. We’re heading four or five hours flying commercial and then try to get back. You had to get up at six o’ clock, five o’clock in the morning. Try to catch a flight, get back to out west. It was horrible. I think that was the reason it shortened a lot guys’ careers. Now, in today’s day and age, teams own their planes and they charter. Travel’s not so difficult now, plus the schedule is now set up so you play regional teams. But it was horrendous. I remember the older guys like Marcel Dionne, I mean it just grinded on those guys. I mean I was a young guy, I was 19 years old. Hey, I’m flying on a plane, this is great. But for him, a wily, old veteran it just wore on him and that was a big problem for the Kings. The way the schedule was and the way the travel was.
On his favorite defenseman to play with:
Probably starting here in Los Angeles, I played with Dave Lewis. He still coaches in the league. He was my first partner. I pretty well played my first season with him and he taught me a lot that first year. He was the perfect guy to play with, very understanding. Because you’re a rookie and you’re, I guess, a little unreliable, a little frazzled out there at times, you don’t have the experience. And he was always pretty understanding. He was real – I don’t know, sympathetic – just real positive about things and that first season went real well. I give Dave a lot of credit for that.
On being honored at Legends Night:
It’s special. When I got the call I was very excited, very honored for it. It’s very humbling that they recognize the time I played in LA. For me, that’s how I got started. As they talked about earlier, it was a situation, I could have ended up with a different team, playing less minutes, with a different coach. For me, it meant a lot to me to start here and I am proud of what I did here in Los Angeles and I was disappointed when I left, but that’s the way it works.