murray1-e1396441773559Four years ago the Sporting News named Douglas Murray one of the 20 smartest athletes in North American sports.  He is apparently smart enough to spot a scam when he sees it.

Murray became a unrestricted free agent at the end of his 2013-2014 season with the Canadiens.  While former Habs Francis Bouillon, Scott Gomez, Tomas Kaberle and Mike Komisarek were in 2014 training camps on unpaid Professional Tryout Contracts, probably knowing that there was little chance of securing another NHL contract, Murray simply wanted no part of it.  Basically, he considered the whole idea of the PTO as a charade.     In an interview with the Stockholm Aftonbladet this week, Murray said

“I have been nine years in the NHL and seen many tryout players. It’s not far over one percent of those who eventually will get a contract.  The reason is many teams are their presence in order to rest the veterans of the team.  Tryout players are put in bad situations, forced to play with bad or young players.  It is of course easier to perform well when surrounded with better talent.”

The worst offenders in this regard have always been the New Jersey Devils.  This year they brought Gomez, Kaberle and Komisarek into their camp.  Kaberle and Komisarek were released and Gomez was asked to stick around to practice with the team into the season.  Of course he would be unpaid and without any contract protection.

This year the Canadiens had two NHLer’s in their training camp on PTO’s.  We’ll given them a pass on this one.  There was a sentimental component  to the Francis Bouillon invitation and former Carolina Hurricane Drayson Bowman, who has age on his side, wound up with a two-way contract and, after clearing waivers a ticket to Hamilton.

Murray meanwhile, wearing his Canadiens equipment, Murray is being seen these days staying in shape skating with the Djurgarden Stockholm juniors.   As Murray sees it, the demise of the middle-income player is mirroring North American society in general.

“On each team there are seven or eight players who are well paid.  The entire middle class has disappeared and teams now focus on the cheaper younger players.  It’s hard to create a winner that way.  It’s one thing in the regular season but in the Stanley Cup the nerves come out.  A player has to be able to handle the long season.  I have never seen so many young players now in the NHL.”

He’s right of course.  One need look no further than the Canadiens where seven members of the 23-player  opening night roster are operating on entry level contracts.