THUNDER BAY – Matt Murray’s still being a little coy with his plans for his day with the Stanley Cup.
But the former Soo Greyhound did let one cat out of the bag on Tuesday evening.
“I want to make sure everything’s planned out before we announce anything, but there will be a public celebration once again. Just the details still need to be planned out,” said Murray, the two-time Stanley Cup champion and starting goaltender for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It’s widely believed the celebration will occur on Aug. 12, though Murray did not confirm the date, as he laced up his skates and took to the Thunder Bay Tournament Centre ice to take part in the 14th annual Easter Seals Celebrity Skate.
For now the 23-year-old just wants to focus on the task at hand, getting set for his third National Hockey League season, a campaign he’ll enter as the undisputed No. 1 goaltender in the Steel City, after long-time stalwart Marc-Andre Fleury was taken by the Vegas Golden Knights in last month’s expansion draft.
It will be different, the Thunder Bay-born Murray said.
“I’m forever grateful to everything that Marc has ever done for me. It’s sad to see him go,” he said. “Honestly even though we competed for playing time and were competitors in that regard, we’re all part of the same team and we’re all out there for one thing, that’s to win.
“Having Flower definitely gave us a good chance to win. His presence on and off the ice, he’s a guy that’s going to be missed on and off the ice.”
With or without Fleury, Murray said winning a third straight title won’t be an easy task. It never is.
“Obviously it’s not easy to win at all in this league, especially with the salary cap and the turnover that teams go through. Last year we were lucky that we didn’t lose too many guys and we had a lot of the same guys come back,” Murray said.
“This year it’s a little bit different. We lost some key pieces and we’re going to have a new look going into this season. But I think we’ve added some key pieces as well and I think we’re in really good shape. Of course it’s going to be difficult, but I think if there’s a team that can do it, we can do it.”
Despite the early success, it’s all still pretty surreal for Murray, looking up and seeing Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel donning the same colours and sharing the same dressing room.
Murray, who was 32-10-4 in the regular season, with four shutouts and a 2.41 goals against average, still finds it hard to believe he’s got two Cup wins under his belt – technically both as a rookie. He doesn’t expect that feeling to disappear anytime soon.
“I think I’ll feel like a rookie for some time still and I’m just trying to soak things in and enjoy myself, enjoy the moment and realize this is what you dream of as a kid, to be in the NHL and win the Stanley Cup,” said Murray, who was 7-3 with three more shutouts in the post-season.
“I’ve been so lucky to win back-to-back years my first two years. It’s definitely something I don’t take for granted.”