When the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired veteran goaltender Matt Murray
from the Ottawa Senators just over one month ago, the move was met with a lot of criticism from many around the hockey world. The move is largely viewed as a bit of a gamble for Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, given Murray's play in recent seasons, especially given the fact that the Leafs didn't even pick him up at 50% retained.
Last season, Murray's play subpar for the Sens at times, leading to him eventually demoted to the AHL, having to clear waivers to get there - which he did. It's wild to think that a team could have had him for free just one season ago. I'm sure his $6.25M cap hit had a lot to do with why he wasn't claimed.
In the larger picture, Murray was actually quite good for most of last season, posting a .906 SV% on a very weak Ottawa Senators team - particularly on defense. In fact, were it not for his final two starts of before suffering a concussion, effectively ending his season, he would have been closer to a .920 SV%. Instead, Murray surrendered 13 goals in those two games, completely tanking his numbers.
Well, to flip the script a little here, since being acquired by the Leafs, Murray has undergone a pretty substantial transformation, looking much healthier and much happier in recent weeks. Check out this snap of Murray from earlier this year during a post-game press conference.
Now, check out this pic of Murray from earlier today.
There's no question that entering a more favourable situation can work wonders to motivate a player and improve their overall health and happiness. For Murray, after being waived last year and playing in Belleville, I'm sure that a contending team believing in him, acquiring him and putting a lot of their faith in him got him hyped up, motivated and excited. All great things for a player's overall mental health, which can also go a long way in helping to improve their physical health.
I really can't get over that transformation in just a few short months. It's pretty incredible, really. Just from a visual standpoint.. it looks like two entirely different people. Nevertheless, I'm happy for Murray, and am looking forward to his Leafs' debut, as I'm sure many of you are as well.