May 10 2013 06:41AM
Raymond Murray was a quality role player for the Edmonton Oilers in the late 1990's and early 2000's, and reprised his role as a depth center during the Stanley run in 2006. He remains one of the best college free agent signings in club history. He will forever be remembered by Oiler fans as "Rem the Gem."
The phrase 'excellent defensive forward' doesn't exactly inspire monuments and spine tingling moments to remember. However, Rem Murray was an effective player in college (spent four years at Michigan State where he was a CCHA First Team All-Rookie in 1992 and a CCHA Second Team All-Star in 1995) and got himself drafted in 1992 by the Los Angeles Kings. At the end of his NCAA career, Murray instead signed with the upstart Edmonton Oilers, and quickly emerged as a solid two-way option at LW and center.
HEART OF HIS CAREER
Rem Murray became an extremely useful player for the Oilers from 1996 through the 2002 trade deadline, by being a 'jack of all trades.' He could anchor the 4th line, or move up to the 3rd line when Todd Marchant or Ethan Moreau were injured or flagging. He could also take on more of an offensive role, reflected in his 21 goal season in 1998-99.
Murray's skills made him a valuable trade asset at the 2002 deadline, as the Oilers went in search of more offense. He was traded with Tom Poti to the New York Rangers for Mike York. Murray was on the road again in December of 2002, as he was dealt to Nashville with Tomas Kloucek and Marek Zidlicky for Mike Dunham.
JANUARY 6, 2004
On the night of January 6, 2004 Murray was playing for the Preds against Detroit (in Motown) when he began to have trouble with his neck and head. Nashville travelled to Toronto later that night and when he arrived, Murray was in a lot of trouble. He was rushed to the hospital.
- Fortunately enough, a doctor on call was the leading expert in movement disoreders. He diagnosed me with what's called "cervical dystonia.
The quote, and the rest of the amazing story, is available here. The story didn't get as much play as it might have due to the 2004-05 lockout, and when hockey returned in the fall of 2005 Murray felt well enough to attend Detroit's camp in hopes of catching on.
RETURN TO THE OILERS!
Murray's dystonia meant that he received a $1 million disability insurance payment because doctors thought his career was over. However, after the lockout, Murray wanted to play, and almost made the Red Wings but was a late cut. He caught on in the AHL (Houston) and played well enough for the Oilers to come calling after they dealt Marty Reasoner at the deadline and Marc Pouliot came down with mono around the same time.
Once again, 'jack of all trades' Murray was back in an Oiler uniform for the spring of 2006. Which turned out to be a magical run, one that we'll remember forever--and Rem Murray was there every step of the way.
The story doesn't end there. After two successful seasons (2007,2008) playing for Helsinki, Murray signed for HC Innsbruck in the Austrian hockey league. On 11 July 2009 signed a contract with Pustertal-Val Pusteria Wolves in the Serie A, and would spend the year with them before signing in Austria.
Rem Murray retired from hockey last summer. The story is here.
LOVE OF THE GAME
Remember that item back there about Murray catching on with the Oilers in the spring of 2006? According to this article, it actually COST Murray money to play for the Oilers in 2006.
- Every dollar he earns must go to the insurance company until he pays back the $1 million. In addition, Murray must still pay his taxes on earnings, which means it costs him money out of his pocket to play for the Oilers this season. At $450,000 a year, he would have to go three seasons to stop losing money.
Incredible. Rem the Gem.