Welcome back to NLL.com’s weekly feature, Where Are They Now? Every week we will be catching up with former NLL players to hear what they are up to. As always, if there is a former player you’d like to hear from, send us a tweet @NLL.
This week’s feature is on Bruce Murray, 41, former defenseman with the Vancouver Ravens (2002-2004); Anaheim Storm (2005); Arizona Sting (2006-2007); Colorado Mammoth (2008-2010) and Edmonton Rush (2011).
Murray was drafted in the eighth round (58th overall) by the Vancouver Ravens in the 1999 NLL Draft.
Murray had the unfortunate luck of playing for three teams that suspended operations. Therefore, he was selected in NLL Dispersal Drafts three times. First, he was selected by the Anaheim Storm in the 2004 NLL Dispersal Draft. After the 2005 season, he was selected by the Minnesota Swarm in the 2005 NLL Dispersal Draft and was then traded to Arizona before the season started. Lastly, he was selected by the Colorado Mammoth in the 2008 NLL Dispersal Draft.
Murray reached the 2007 NLL Championship with the Arizona Sting before falling to the eventual champion Rochester Knighthawks, 13-11.
NLL.com: What are you up to these days?
Murray: Currently I am an acting captain of the Vancouver Fire Department, which is my 9-5 job. I’m also talking on a role as the executive coaching coordinator of Coquitlam minor lacrosse. I’m coaching my 11-year-old son Keegan in the Pee Wee league and my 13-year-old son Kalem in the Bantam league.
We play in different cities within an hour radius. The season goes from April to July and it’s all indoor.
NLL.com: What does that job entail?
Murray: For my acting captain role, I’m an officer on the fire truck and am in charge of a crew of eight to eleven fire fighters. I can be a commander at emergency scenes and I’m in charge of a fire haul.
For the executive coaching coordinator position, I have to recruit coaches to develop young lacrosse players from the time they are five until they are 15 to help them develop into better lacrosse players.
NLL.com: How did you get involved in both the Fire Department and youth coaching?
Murray: I’ve been a Firefighter for 20 years. When I was a very young man, my mom told me the books I wanted to read were all about fire engines and a lot of my parents friends were Firefighters. It was always in the back of my head as something that I always thought about.
One day, I had a sit down conversation with my grandfather and he asked me what I wanted to do. He said you always wanted to be a Firefighter so let’s look into it. We looked into it, and I haven’t looked back since.
As for youth coaching, I want to give back. The sport has been very good to me. I still have a big passion for the game. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and complain about things that don’t get done.
NLL.com: Do you still play lacrosse in adult leagues?
Murray: I’ve been asked to play but my knees are too far gone.
NLL.com: What is your most fond memory of playing in the NLL?
Murray: For me, it was always playing against the best players. I had an opportunity to play against the Gait brothers, John Tavares, and Colin Doyle who were all the best of the best. It was an honor every day to go out and be in charge of checking them. It usually didn’t go well, but that was the big passion for me. I wanted that challenge of being in charge of checking JT or Gary Gait and that kind of challenge to me is what made me passionate about playing defense, and what made me keep wanting to play and stay involved in the NLL.
NLL.com: Do you still keep in touch with any of your teammates and if so, which one (s)?
Murray: Yeah, a bunch. I keep in contact with Rich Catton and Chris Gill. I work with Ian Hawksbee and Dan Stroup. I see them at work all the time. Patty Coyle and Jason Wulder, too. I see a bunch of former players around the arenas as they are taking their kids to the game.
NLL.com: You were on the 2007 Arizona Sting team that lost in the NLL Finals to the Rochester Knighthawks. How tough was that defeat?
Murray: Losing a championship is always tough. When I looked across the turf and saw the opponent, it was one of those things that even though the loss was devastating, being able to play on the same field as that Rochester team – and I think we gave them a pretty good game, we battled hard and gave them everything we had – but you say to yourself who do you let go here? Scott Evans, Junior (John Grant Jr.), Shawn Williams? It was quite a battle and quite a task and I think we did the best we possibly could that game.
NLL.com: You were taken in the dispersal draft twice and played on five teams in your career. Can you describe how tough it is to assimilate with your teammates in the first year of joining a new team?
Murray: I can’t speak for other athletes in other sports, but for lacrosse we’re all the same kind of aggressive A-type guys who are there to win and play the sport we’re passionate about. You know pretty much everybody – not personally, but of each other.
Every time I went to a different team it was very welcoming. I found the combining factor to be that every time we looked at each other, we said we’re getting paid to play this game that we love that we were willing to do for free for so many years. I think that was the tie that bound us together.
I think it took about two weekends of practicing and traveling that you we got tight pretty quick. It was fairly obvious if you didn’t get along with your teammates you’d be left out quick. And if you didn’t get over something that happened in the past you’d be gone. You just want to win and you battle together. There were guys I used to hate going against, that when I played with them I ended up becoming very close friends with them. That’s the beauty of this sport.
NLL.com: What person was the most influential in helping you build and sustain your career in the league?
Murray: I’ve had three very influential coaches in my lacrosse career. One was my minor coach for the first seven years of my career and his name is Tom Bevan. He coached me from age seven to 12 – he followed my age group up and coached us throughout my early teens.
The second is Frank Neilson, who coached the Bandits for a while. He coached me in Junior A in B.C.
And then there’s Bob Salt, who coached me in Senior A.
I played on too many teams to have one coach be influential in NLL. But if I had to pick one coach from my NLL days, I would say Bob McMahon, who is now the assistant coach in Calgary. He had a huge influence on me. He coached me on Team Canada and in world indoors and was an assistant coach with Arizona while I was there.
NLL.com: You have a free day, nothing to do, no work – nothing. What are you filling your time with?
Murray: I live in a beautiful part of this country so I love going for hikes in trails where I live. I love being outdoors and I love working in my garden. I like going outside, weeding, planting, and mowing the grass and just getting my hands dirty.
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