The Everett Silvertips captain underwent shoulder surgery in Cleveland last Thursday. One day later, he was on a plane back to Everett.
Murray won't be returning to the ice -- the injury ended both his season and his junior hockey career. However, the Tips have their star defenseman back in the fold, at least for a little while.
"I just wanted to get out of the hotel room," Murray said about returning to Everett immediately following surgery. "I was pretty sore that day, but I was glad I was able to come here and see the guys, say goodbye to everyone before I left."
Murray underwent successful surgery last Thursday to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The recovery time is an estimated six months, and Murray is expected to return to full strength. He's back in Everett for a couple weeks before he returns to Cleveland for a check-up on Jan. 31.
"It feels pretty good," Murray said of his shoulder. "It's only been about a week, but it's already feeling a lot better than it did right after. So it's coming along as much as it can."
Murray suffered the season-ending injury on Nov. 16 at Victoria while defending a Royals' rush and colliding with Victoria's Logan Nelson. The collision dislocated Murray's left shoulder.
"I went to hit a guy, he was coming to hit me as well, and I just remember making contact with him," Murray recalled. "He made good contact on me and I fell over, and I went to put my arm down and I had no feeling. I can't remember if it popped out when I hit him or when I fell. But I went to brace my fall and there was no strength there at all. I knew instantly it was out."
Although the dislocation ended Murray's season, his shoulder was giving him trouble beforehand. He already had been diagnosed with a probable torn labrum and was scheduled to undergo an MRI just days after the injury occurred.
"I went to see a couple doctors and they said I probably had a torn labrum in there already, because I had some clicking and a little bit of soreness doing certain workouts," Murray said. "They said it was probably already torn, but the only way they can do anything is through surgery. So, there was nothing I could really do. If I kept playing, I would have a higher chance of dislocating it than a normal person would."
Murray was originally scheduled to have the surgery in December, but complications caused it to be pushed back into January.
"I had some nerve stuff going on," Murray explained. "They were waiting for the nerves to heal -- they got stretched and there was a large spot of numbness on my arm. They wanted that to heal before they went in."
The injury brought to an end to one of the greatest careers in Silvertips history. Murray was originally selected ninth overall in the 2008 bantam draft, with the White City, Saskatchewan, native making his Everett debut during the 2009 playoffs as a 15-year-old. He spent three-plus seasons with Everett, being named the team's co-Most Valuable Player for the 2010-11 season and the MVP outright for 2011-12. Last June, he became the highest NHL draft pick in franchise history when he was selected second overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
This season, Murray wasn't even expected to return to Everett, as he was a strong candidate to make Columbus' roster as a 19-year-old. However, the NHL lockout sent Murray temporarily back to the Tips.
Murray won't return to Everett following his check-up. He's slated to undergo his rehabilitation in Columbus with the Blue Jackets, meaning he'll get a taste of the NHL experience, even if his NHL debut has been delayed.
"They just thought it would be best to go there and do rehab," Murray said. "I think it will be good for me to even be in the locker room and the training room, learn from the older guys playing there. Even when I start skating I can start skating with NHL-caliber players."
Although Murray's time with the Tips will be done, his time in Everett won't be forgotten.
"It was a great run here," Murray said. "When I first got drafted I knew nothing about this area of the country and nothing about they team. I just learned so much about this area and met so many great people here, played with so many great players and people. I have so many people to thank while I've been here.
"It's pretty emotional even just being here, knowing I'm going to be leaving in a week or two. It's left a large mark on me and been a big part of my life."
Tonight's home game against Seattle, which begins at 7:35 p.m., is being televised live by ROOT Sports. It is the first of two Everett games that will be televised this season. The second game is Mar. 8 at Spokane. Everett will likely be without overage defenseman Connor Cox for this weekend's three-in-three. Cox is feeling lingering effects from a neck injury suffered last Saturday against Portland, and he is currently going through the concussion protocol. The Tips will have defenseman Mirco Mueller available tonight. Mueller returned Thursday night from Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he played in the CHL Top Prospects Game. Everett general manager Garry Davidson said he'd like to give Mueller, who just returned from Russia last week after playing for Switzerland at the World Junior Hockey Championships, some time off. However, Cox's injury may prevent that from happening.
Check out Nick Patterson's Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.
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