In the world of professional sports, particularly in NHL hockey, success is typically measured by two things. First, it’s measured by statistics, achievements, and awards. Second, it’s measured by Stanley Cup championships. But, there’s a down side of hockey (and other professional sports as well). That’s where Matt Murray’s living as I write this post.

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There’s a Down Side of Pro Hockey

This side to the great game of hockey can be heartbreaking. For me, it’s tough to witness what’s happening to Matt Murray right now. Most fans know Murray’s accomplishments as a Stanley Cup-winning goaltender when he was with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

But his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs has not be filled with the same success. He’s a prime example of the challenges faced by athletes as they transition to the latter phases of their careers.

Murray Was Once on Top of the World as a Stellar Goalie

Murray was once regarded as a rising goalie star. He was a key contributor to two Penguins’ Stanley Cup victories. Now he finds himself in a tough spot. He’s a character guy, but injuries have plagued his recent seasons and have created a situation where he’s been unable to showcase his talents.

When he was healthy last season, he played well. But, he was injured far too often. Those injuries rendered his performances inconsistent. He was no longer reliable. Now the team is faced with moving him out.

Murray’s High Salary Is Nice, But It Doesn’t Heal All Wounds

That Murray was signed to a big-money contract by the Ottawa Senators and is still being paid helps financially. But it doesn’t fully compensate for his current situation. He must be frustrated not to be able to contribute on the ice like he’s been used to. His struggles have led to criticisms by fans and necessary discussions about his future with the Maple Leafs.

It’s disheartening for me to see a player who has given so much to the game being talked about as if he were disposable, a mere problem to be solved. But, that’s no one’s fault per se. It just is the way it is.

Taking Time to Remember Murray’s NHL Accomplishments

Today I wrote a small piece in my The Hockey Writers News & Rumors post about Murray. It just struck me that it was important to remember his journey in hockey was one marked by success. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, and those achievements will undoubtedly be a source of satisfaction when he retires and thinks back about his career.

However, to my mind, that doesn’t mitigate the tough transition from being a top NHL player to one dealing with injuries and uncertainties. It’s got to bother you.

Related: Re-Signing O’Reilly & Samsonov Is No Brainer for Maple Leafs

GM Brad Treliving Has a Tough, But Necessary Job

Really, the Maple Leafs do not face that much of a tough decision. General Manager (GM) Brad Treliving inherited Murray, but now he has to act. His job is to manage the team’s salary cap and address the other roster needs so that the Maple Leafs can be successful.

The organization simply has to move on from Murray to pursue its key goal for the upcoming season – that’s to try to (once again) win the Stanley Cup.

Although decisions like what to do with Murray are not made lightly, sometimes it seems that the human is forgotten in the transaction. Murray’s work ethic and dedication to the game of hockey are commendable. Still, hockey is a business and tough choices must be made. Murray’s situation is also a reminder of the realities faced by athletes as they face the later stages of their careers. So many resist retiring because they miss the “guys.”

Just Saying Good Luck to Murray, Wherever He Goes

Matt Murray is facing the transition blues. But he’s not alone. Many – maybe most – hockey players face difficulties as they transation to life after hockey. As he does, good luck to Matt Murray – wherever he might land.

Related: Maple Leafs Signing Corey Perry Would Be a Huge Win

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