It happened repeatedly Wednesday. Fans milling around the viewing area of the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex noticed when the goaltender with “Murray” on the back of his jersey worked in the net at that end.
A debate often ensued, with some excited that Pittsburgh Penguins No. 1 goalie and two-time Stanley Cup winner Matt Murray was helping out on the ice at the club’s annual summer development camp. Others insisted it couldn’t be him.
It was Matt Murray, all right. Just not that one.
This Matt Murray, wearing No. 31 (the Penguins’ starter sports No. 30), is a free agent invitee to development camp coming off a strong sophomore season at UMass. He is from St. Albert, Alberta; the one under contract with the Penguins is from Thunder Bay, Ontario.
At 21 years old and 6 feet 1, 185 pounds, Matt Murray the development camp participant is four years younger, three inches shorter, eight pounds lighter and two Stanley Cup rings behind the Matt Murray that is the Penguins’ No. 1 goaltender.
He gets comments and questions about the same-named NHL goalie, even when he’s nowhere near Pittsburgh.
“A lot,” the younger Murray said. “It’s quite common in my daily life. It’s fun. I’m used to it. It’s a good topic of conversation. I don’t mind too much.”
The two haven’t met, but they are aware of each other.
“He sent me a (text) message back when I was 18 saying good luck in the draft,” the younger Murray said of the older one. He didn’t get selected in the draft, but he appreciated the encouragement from the more accomplished Matt Murray.
“It was really a mature move of him, and it was great to have something like that happen for me at that age,” the younger Murray said.
The “other” Murray wasn’t invited to this camp as some sort of novelty. He has the credentials be at least potentially be a prospect.
The Penguins have tracked him, and he is coming off a strong sophomore season in 2018-19, when he was 20-5-0, setting a school record for wins. He had a 2.11 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. UMass advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four.
“It was a good sophomore season,” Murray said. “Our team had a lot of success. I had a great group of guys in front of me, and that made my job a lot easier throughout the year.
“Moving forward I just want to make sure I’m getting better and better every day. Being out here with some top guys in college and all these draft picks, it’s a great environment for me to get better.”
When Murray had development camp offers from more than one NHL team for this summer, he had no trouble deciding which to attend.
“The way Pittsburgh kind of approached me and the respect that they showed me early on in the season, it was a no-brainer,” he said.
Could there be room for two goalies named Matt Murray with the Penguins one day?
“At the end of the day I don’t think the name really matters,” the younger Murray said. “I’d love to play for this organization one day.”