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Douglas Murray on Almost Fighting Jumbo, Serious Challenges That Retired Players Face

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Douglas Murray and Joe Thornton

6-foot-3, 245-pound defenseman Douglas Murray covered a ton of ice when he patrolled the San Jose Sharks’ blueline from 2005 to 2013.

We covered just as much in Part 1 of our interview with Murray, check it out here: He revealed the fate of UberTap, the plaque that was made for him when he scored a pre-season hat trick, more behind the secret of his nickname “Crankshaft”, and how much San Jose’s playoff losses hurt.

And there’s a Part 2!

Here are Part 2 highlights — check out the entire interview below — Murray recalls the time he almost fought Joe Thornton in practice, why his fight with John Scott was particularly memorable, and he gets real about the challenges that retired athletes face.

Douglas Murray, on why he almost fought Joe Thornton in practice:

I was close once that I fought him in practice.

I’m pretty fiery. I think that’s the reason why Joe respected me through the years. I didn’t take any bullshit. He knew what a competitor I was.

Heat of the moment, in a game, he said something to me which I didn’t take kindly to. The next day in practice, practice started, and we were circling around, yelling at each other. Or I was yelling at him. He was kind of joking it off.

I really wanted to punch him in the face there.

But at that point, I didn’t really want to get traded away.

Murray, on his fight with John Scott:

I fought him when I was Montreal and he was in Buffalo. He did punch me, it was probably the hardest punch [I ever took]. He did punch me in the forehead and I was just gushing blood, but I didn’t fall down. Finished the fight.

But when I got in, I got 18 stitches. They said they could see my skull bone. Split my forehead open. It was so bad. But I didn’t fall down — it was like eight deep stitches, 10 stitches on the front — and went out and finished the game.

Murray, on the challenges that professional athletes face when they retire:

There is a big problem, for athletes in general, and hockey players once you’re done. We need to challenge ourselves, whether it’s owners or management or ex-players to help these guys out.

The preparation for being done with hockey should start the day you start with hockey. That’s just the truth. It could be financially or just doing something.

We talked about getting punched in the face. Three to four times a week [playing games], your adrenaline is going to be at its height to perform — where is all that adrenaline going [when you retire]?

I wasn’t walking around punching people, but I probably got in more heated arguments. I didn’t get into any fights, but I had all this energy, where was it going to go?

It’s sad how many divorces and problems happen afterwards.

It’s hard too: Nobody is going to make nearly the type of money [they made playing]. That satisfaction and confirmation of what your salary is.

You’re not going to have, unless you put yourself in the position of being around the fans, you’re not going to get told what a great player you are or a great person you are — even if you were not a great person, you get told you’re a great person because you showed up for a charity event or you scored a goal. A lot of that confirmation is gone that you’ve been living with probably since you were like five or six.

It’s about doing something.

If you don’t have something to do, you’ve lost a sense of purpose.

When I took my third vacation [after retirement] — we’re in Paris, we’re staying at a nice hotel, going to nice dinners — it doesn’t matter that I worked my whole life to be a hockey player, I hadn’t played for a year and a half.

I’m questioning myself, why do I deserve to be here? Why do I deserve to go to these nice places? I haven’t done shit in a year and a half.

You almost have to work to feel the reward.

I think it’s dangerous to do nothing.

Kyle, Erik, JD, and Sheng Peng from San Jose Hockey Now covered these topics with San Jose Sharks great Douglas Murray here:

  • Murray, on when he almost fought Joe Thornton in practice (10:10)
  • Who would win in a fight, Crankshaft or Jumbo? (11:10)
  • Why fights against Eric Boulton and John Scott were particularly memorable (11:55)
  • Why, on the face, the forehead is the best place to be punched (15:00)
  • Why there’s “a big problem” for athletes once they’re done with the game (17:30)
  • How the transition into retired athlete has gone for Douglas (18:50)
  • On the post-retirement dangers of “doing nothing” (23:10)
  • On competing against Peter Forsberg recently on a reality TV show (25:20)

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