You’re not supposed to laugh at another team’s misfortune…But the ‘Murph trade’ will always make me smile

The Athletic’s ever-proliferate Down Goes Brown, a.k.a. Sean McIndoe, paid tribute to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ signing of Hockey Hall of Famer-to-be Joe Thornton by examining the “10 other times the Maple Leafs signed a veteran Hall of Famer.” Usually, I’d avoid this Leafs-related story like the plague, but there was one time that the Maple Leafs signed a HOF’er-in-the-making, it worked out horribly for them, and they literally gave away an integral part of two Red Wings Stanley Cups as a result:

Level 2: The whipping boy

The player: Larry Murphy

The transaction: Cliff Fletcher acquired the 34-year-old blueliner from the Penguins in 1995, hoping a player who’d had three top-five Norris finishes in the last four years could spark the Leafs’ fading offense.

The outcome: For reasons nobody is quite clear on to this day, Toronto fans never took to Murphy. He was never a bruiser, and he certainly had his share of shoddy defensive moments. But he also racked up 61 points in his only full season in Toronto, which made it strange to see him all but booed out of town. The Leafs shipped him to Detroit midway through the 1996-97 season for literally nothing at all, then watched him help the Red Wings to two Cups.

Luckily, there’s no way this market would glitch out and turn on somebody as universally beloved as Joe Thornton, right? (Laughs nervously while imagining Toronto Sun headlines saying stuff like “Dumbo Joe.”) No, of course not, let’s move on.

Continued; I will always be grateful for the fact that the Wings grabbed “Murph” for future considerations, that he helped Nicklas Lidstrom become truly elite along the way toward earning those two Stanley Cup titles, that he made his post-hockey home here, and that Fox Sports Detroit employs the affably awkward broadcaster (for the second time). Murph is the gift that keeps on giving.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

One thought on “You’re not supposed to laugh at another team’s misfortune…But the ‘Murph trade’ will always make me smile”

  1. The Fans of all Sports in Toronto have run many athletes out of town, which should make them feel good.
    Yet there are many athletes that “Want” to go to the A$$H0L3 of the World, then they read about themselves thru the Media. Another messed up group. I would think Tavares (who is starting to get “Paid too much”, “Not enough Points”, etc) is ready to get out of town or run out of town. There were many in the old days. Imlach, Ballard were such nice guys (LOL), and many more like them.

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