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Ron Murphy

Ron Murphy
Murphy was part of the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Black Hawks in 1961, when this photo was taken. Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Spectator

Mount Hope native played 18 years in the NHL with four different teams

During his 18 years in the NHL, Ron Murphy’s body suffered. He suffered a broken ankle, a broken jaw (which occurred when he was playing with the NY Rangers in the famous stick-swinging incident with Montreal’s Bernie Geoffrion), a broken wrist and an infected foot.

Later in his career, his arms and shoulders were giving him problems, and his back muscles were not what they once had been.

“This is about the time a lot of fellows figure on wrapping it up,” Murphy stated in an April 1968 interview. “But my legs are in excellent shape. In fact, I have the legs of a junior and the upper body of an old pro.”

Born in April of 1933, this Mount Hope native would hitch rides down to Hamilton’s Forum for hockey practice and games.

Overcoming a disruptive childhood, Murphy was 15 years old and started playing with the Grimsby Junior C club. His talent was noticed by Andy Brown of the New York Rangers. Brown invited Murphy to play with the Guelph Biltmores of the OHA Junior loop, part of the Rangers’ farm system, and Murphy’s hockey career started with Guelph for the 1949-50 season.

“This was a real break for me because Alf Pike was the coach at Guelph,” he said in a 1966 interview. “Up to then I never had any real coaching in hockey. But Alf really helped me with a lot of the fundamentals – especially staying on my own wing.”
By 1952, Murphy was called up from Guelph to play with the Rangers, where he played for the next two seasons.

Ron Murphy
Murphy spent two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings later in his career. Photo courtesy of the Hamilton Spectator

But he and Ranger coach Phil Watson were never on the same page and, he was sent went to play with the Saskatoon Quakers of the WHL, although he came back to New York for the 1955-56 and 1956-57 seasons, scoring 23 goals in 99 games. It was also during this time he was involved with the Geoffrion incident.

Deemed a troublemaker in the Ranger organization, Murphy was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in 1957, and remained there for seven seasons, producing his best numbers in a franchise that was comfortable for the winger.

“Ron can skate and he plays good positional hockey,” noted Ranger great Harry Howell in a 1961 Gary Lautens article. “He was one of those players who seemed to get around 10 to 15 goals a year and never better.
“But he really changed when he went to Chicago three years ago,” Howell continued. “He told me he was never happier. This year he got 21 goals.”

The 21-goal effort was the highest of Murphy’s career. He went to Detroit in 1964, scoring 20 goals in 58 games in his first year with the Red Wings. During his two seasons with Detroit, he fit in well, and enjoyed playing for coach Sid Abel.

He was then traded to the Boston Bruins during the 1965-66 season, playing only two games that year, but remained with the club another two seasons. There was a short six-game stint with the Oklahoma City Blazers of the CPHL, and then he returned to Boston to finish his career in the 1969-70 season. It was in his final season that he won his second Stanley Cup. His first was with the 1961 Black Hawks, skating with the likes of Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, and Glenn Hall.

Even though he had been talked out of retirement by the Bruins in his last seasons, Murphy’s body had taken its toll on close to two decades of play.

During his NHL career with the Rangers, Black Hawks, Red Wings, and Bruins, his played in 889 games, totaling 205 goals and 479 points.

He stayed in hockey for a while after playing, as head coach of the Kitchener Rangers of the OHA in the 1970-71 and 1971-72 seasons.

Murphy was honored in 2004 at Copps Coliseum as one of Hamilton’s Hockey Hometown Heroes, and he now resides in Nanticoke.