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Luke Murphy - Author and Former Hockey Player

By Alex Parker 

 

Luke Murphy was born in Canada on November 15, 1975. From 1992-1995, Murphy played for the Pembroke Lumber Kings. He won multiple awards during this time including Rookie of the Year, Most Sportsmanlike Player, League Top Scorer, and runner up to League MVP. After his success with Pembroke, Murphy attended RIT on a hockey scholarship. Following the rewarding 4 years spent at RIT Luke decided to continue his pursuit of a NHL career. He attended the Florida Panthers training camp and was very successful during this time. Unfortunately, Luke broke his hand, which cut his time at the camp a little short. After recovering mentally and physically from this speed bump, he was offered a Minor League contract with the Panthers and spent 6 years in Florida before retiring from hockey.

 

Luke now enjoys the life of a family man with his wife and two daughters. A former professional hockey player now spends his time being a father, husband, teacher, coach, and writer. Always having a passion for reading and writing, Murphy began pursuing a writing hobby in 2000. Just as he reached his dream of playing professional hockey, Luke Murphy is now a published writer. His debut novel,   DEAD MAN’S HAND “A fast, gritty ride”  , is now available in paper back or in Kindle edition. Get your copy now at…

http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Hand-ebook/dp/B009OUT2ME

 

Interview

1. While playing for the Pembroke Lumber Kings you won several awards including 2 Most Sportsmanlike Player awards. What advice do you have for young hockey players on maintaining a sportsmanlike attitude? How important is it to have good sportsmanship? 

The most important lesson you can teach a young athlete is the value of sportsmanship. Every child is going to lose at least once in his or her life. There’s no avoiding it, and that’s why children should be educated on how to accept defeat graciously. Most people consider sportsmanship after a loss. But for me, sportsmanship doesn’t just mean losing graciously, but it also means winning with class. Respect your opponent during victory or defeat.  “When you lose, say little, when you win, say even less.”  I think that in today’s competitive sports world, the aspect of good sportsmanship gets overlooked, and mistreated. There are too many incidents in professional sports that give kids the wrong idea. Parents now see an opportunity for their child to achieve the kind of wealth and life they had only dreamed of through playing professional sports. I`ve been around the game of hockey for a long time, at all levels, and I truly believe that parents have had a major negative impact on their child`s attitude towards the game they play.


2. I saw you went to Rochester Institute of Technology on a hockey scholarship and graduated 2nd team All-American earning a BS in Marketing with a Minor in Sociology. How did you find a good balance between hockey and schoolwork? How important do you think it is for young people to get a higher education? 

Time management is critical in College. Not only did I go to RIT to play hockey, but when you`re on a scholarship you have the responsibility of achieving a grade level that allows you to keep your scholarship, stay on the team and in school. I also shuffled a part-time job, while maintaining a social life that would allow me to enjoy the benefits of the college lifestyle. I learned the importance of the three “S”`s and in this order: School, Sport and Social.  Growing up, I only had one goal in mind...making it to the NHL. I ate, slept and breathed the game of hockey, and didn`t think of anything else. But as you become older, your perspective on reality alters, and your goals shift. If Icouldn’t make a living playing hockey, at least Icould achieve an education and open doors for myfuture.This didn`t mean I was totally giving up on my ultimate goal of reaching the NHL. It just meant I was prolonging that achievement. The future is unpredictable, and you don`t know what can happen: injuries, obstacles, set-backs. It`s nice to have an education to fall back on in case your plans don`t go your way.


3. After being very successful at the Florida Panthers Training Camp, were you concerned about your hockey future after breaking the 2 bones in your hand? What did you do to make sure you recovered successfully? 

Mentally, injuring myself at the Florida camp was one of the toughest things I`ve ever faced or had to overcome. I was on such a high at the time. I was in the best shape of my life, and I was fulfilling a lifelong dream. When I broke my hand I was an undrafted, unsigned free agent who was sent home with a cast, remaining positive and upbeat was a challenge. I felt mental exhaustion and partial defeat.  Three days after my cast was put on, I received a phone call from the assistant general manager of the Panthers, Chuck Fletcher. Mr. Fletcher told me how impressed he was of the camp I had and told me to give him a call when the cast came off. I knew his reputation as being a professional and good at his job, so I took it for what it was: a guy in a high position of an NHL franchise telling me how impressed he was. That felt pretty good. I saw Mr. Fletcher`s call as HOPE, even if it was only a thread to cling to, I was going to use that conversation to motivate and drive me. The first thing I did was to make sure I stayed positive. Then, I took care of myself physically. I couldn’t lift weights, but I rode the bike everyday and worked my legs to not only maintain what I had, but strengthen even further. I watched hockey, and skated with the local junior team. I spent time with family and friends, sharing my NHL experience. At that point, I knew even then that I had achieved something that most people will never experience...I was a part of an NHL camp.  When I talked to Mr. Fletcher again, I signed a minor league deal with the Panthers and my lifelong dream was finally realized.


4. What were the most rewarding experiences you had playing for the Florida Panthers? 

I think that just being around professionals 24 hours a day for two straight weeks was rewarding. I got an inside glimpse on how NHL teams worked, the routines and lifestyle that they were accustomed to. I was treated with class and professionalism. It was an awe-inspiring experience.  It was eye-opening to see professional athletes, not young players trying to make it, but veterans who had been around the league for years. Seeing their continued work ethic, as they strive to get better all the time, no matter how long they`d been playing. They continued to learn about the game and work to improve  It was awesome seeing how helpful and encouraging these veterans were to the younger guys. They knew that they had been in their shoes. It was like a big family.  Overall, just being a part of the NHL experience, is something I will never forget.

 

5. I read that even as a child you loved reading and writing. What was/is your favorite part about literature? 

Reading and writing have the same impact for me. They both give me liberty and freedom to express myself.  When I read, I leave reality. I am the character in the story, doing what they do and seeing what they see. Writing allows me, for a short time, the freedom to explore new avenues and to be in another place and time. It allows me to get inside the head of characters—to think, do, and say whatever I want with no rules or restrictions.

 

6. I read that you coached a local junior hockey team after retiring in 2006. What was/is the most rewarding thing about coaching hockey? Have you taught your daughters how to play? 

There isn`t a better feeling in the world than seeing a young child smiling and enjoying the fun that comes from playing sports. Its very rewarding sharing the knowledge I have, and giving back to the sport that has given so much to me.  I love coaching.  I also teach Grade 5 so the experiences are very similar. Seeing the smile of their face is the most rewarding part.  Being a good coach means: teaching your players that winning isn't everything, understanding and motivating your players, being tough but fair, teaching life skills along with sports skills, and making it a team effort.  My oldest daughter is only four, and although we`ve asked repeatedly if she wants to play hockey, she has chosen to follow her daycare friends and figure skate. Maybe someday she will change her mind, but I will never push her to play.