Murray Henderson

Murray Henderson played eight seasons in the NHL, not bad for a fellow who looked at hockey as a sideline.

Murray first played for the Toronto Young Rangers (OHA) in 1940-41. He then went on to play for the Toronto Marlboros and the Royal Canadian Air Force of the OHA Sr. league.

In the pre-war days Murray was more interested in learning prices and parts than acquiring a higher knowledge of passes and pucks.

"I used to play for fun, just as a sideline. I don't believe the idea of playing professional hockey ever entered my head, even though my uncles Charlie, Roy and Lionel Conacher were All-Stars. The first time I gave it any serious thought was when I got out of the service and Harold "Baldy" Cotton talked to me about coming to Boston. Even then I wasn't sold on the idea, but I decided to take the chance and I have never regretted that I did. " Murray said during an interview in 1950.

Cotton who himself had a stellar 12-year NHL career was the Bruins "talent-tabber" and searched for prospects all around Ontario. He had his eyes on Murray for years. Murray walked into the Boston Arena for his first Bruins practice in the spring of 1945, a few days after receiving compassionate leave from the RCAF where he had been a coastal patrol pilot when his father passed away.

"When I came to Boston I was horribly out of condition, because I hadn't played very much in a year and a half. The Bruins put me with the Olympics (Boston's amateur team) to get into shape. I played half a dozen games with them,then got a crack at the Bruins " Murray remembered.

Murray especially remembered his first ever NHL game when he was paired with the legendary Aubrey "Dit" Clapper, a Hall of Famer.

" It was in Detroit, we lost, and late in the game I got my first chance to play. I went out on defense with Dit Clapper. "

One would think that Murray recieved a lot of instructions from his famous uncles while he was learning his way around the ice, but that wasn't the case.

" It doesn't seem to me that they were around much when I was little " Murray reflected. " At least I can't recall when they might have seen me play, before I joined the Bruins, that is. One or all of them might have seen me somewhere along the line, but I don't remember when. "

Although Murray's uncles gave him tips later in his career, it was his former teammates Dit Clapper and Jack Crawford who were his biggest benefactors.

"Dit gave me the benefit of his experience while I was playing with him, he was my partner for my first two years, and he always had advice and tips after he retired to the bench. Then I also learned a lot from watching Jack work. " , Murray said.

Murray wasn't a devotee of the "rock 'em and sock 'em" style of defensive play, although he threw his weight around effectively when it was necessary. At that time he boiled his playing theory down to one sentence.

"I figure my job is to try to stop the other team from scoring " he said, " and I try to do that in whatever way I can. "

Murray continued to patrol the Bruins blue line in unspectacular but steady fashion until 1952. He then winded down his career by playing four seasons (1952-56) for the Hershey Bears in the AHL, making the AHL 2nd All-Star team in 1955.

Murray was not nearly as skilled as his famous uncles but always gave an honest effort in the rink and was an important part of the post-war Bruins team.


  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP