I get it that NHL teams are trying to leverage the rules to their benefit. However, when news broke that Matt Murray, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ injured goalie, would be placed on Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR), it was a bit surprising. However, more surprising to me was that questions were asked about whether the decision was legit.
So Is Murray Really Injured?
Is Murray really injured? Yes, he had previously expressed his readiness to play during the playoffs. That still doesn’t explain the doubts about his sudden inability to play for the entire 2023-24 season. Skeptics pointed to the benefits for the Maple Leafs’ salary cap situation. And, while that might be accurate, it isn’t the way Murray would want it or play it.
Those same skeptics interpreted that, if Murray were ready to play during the playoffs, why is he stepping out now for an entire season? While I suppose there’s a certain kind of logic in that question, when you think more deeply about it, it’s just silly.
How Professional Athletes Think
This entire thing is simple. No elite professional athlete, particularly with the résumé that Murray brings to the table, would willingly choose to leave the sport he loves for an entire season just to rake in the cash. That’s crazy. It’s also below him and is embarrassing when you consider the accusation embedded in that logic.
More to the point, the more logical way to look at his willingness to play in the playoffs reinforces the second logic rather than the first. During the postseason, even if Murray were injured, if he could go he probably would go – he’d owe that to his teammates.
Professional Athletes Want to Play and Keep Playing
Critics who believe that Murray would simply choose to sit on his rear rather than play hockey have no idea what they’re talking about. The motivations of an elite athlete like Murray would have nothing to do with taking a season off and opting for LTIR. Although that might be the life some non-athletes might choose, I can tell you that it isn’t how Murray thinks.
Murray busted his rear getting ready to play during the playoffs. He certainly worked hard to get ready for this coming season. Regardless of whether he was going to play for the Maple Leafs or not, I bet you he was working as hard as he could to get ready to play somewhere. He wants to play. It’s as simple as that.
Unlikelihood of League Investigation
It is unlikely that the NHL will investigate the situation further. Reports suggest the Maple Leafs were prepared to buy out Murray, but his (Murray’s) representatives informed the team that he was unable to play. That’s what led to the LTIR decision.
Yes, I understand that the LTIR ruling benefits the Maple Leafs. However, you can’t take Murray out of the equation. He is not a patsy for the team, doing whatever the Maple Leafs desire. He’s his own person, and regardless of what team he plays for he simply wants to play.
There’s no reason for an NHL investigation. Saner minds understand what’s going on here.
Five Reasons for Elite Goalies to Continue Playing
Without spending a great deal of time explicating the five reasons below, I’ll just lay them out. There are at least five reasons why Murray would choose to play if he could.
Reason One: Murray Loves the Game of Hockey
Reason Two: Murray’s Competitive Spirit and Desire to Perform at His Best Supercedes
Reason Three: Murray Has Personal Goals and Aspirations for His Career, He’s Not Retiring Without a Fight
Reason Four: Murray Is Loyal and Responsible to His Teammates, Whoever They Are
Reason Five: Murray Seeks Professional Fulfillment and Lives a Purpose-Driven Professional Life
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that skeptics that suggest that Murray is not really injured simply have no clue how a professional athlete thinks. Again, Murray’s job is not to do the bidding of the Maple Leafs. As an athlete, he wants more than anything to play hockey.
I believe that if Murray could play he would play. Even if it’s not with the Maple Leafs, he wants to suit up and play somewhere. It really is that simple.