TAKING LIBERTIES WITH … Connor Murphy
Name: Connor Murphy
Hometown: Dublin, Ohio
Currently resides: Scottsdale
Current team: Arizona Coyotes (NHL)
Last Youth Hockey Team: U.S. National Team Development Program (USNTDP)
Arizona Rubber: What’s the best piece of advice you have for youth hockey players?
Connor Murphy: Take every day as a development process and understand it takes every day to get better. Your improvement and your development doesn’t happen overnight. You’ve just got to put that work in everyday and you have to listen to everyone to get better. You’re not going to do that alone so it takes your team, your coaches and your parents to get to the level you want to be at.
AZR: How about their parents?
CM: Understand that the coaches are in it for the betterment of the players. They’re not there to put players ahead of your sons or daughters. Just be supportive, the kids are already getting stuff from their coaches and even teammates at times so it’s important to be really supportive and promote hard work and being a really good person with strong character.
AZR: When the Coyotes face the Philadelphia Flyers (where your dad, longtime NHL defenseman Gord Murphy, is an assistant coach now), which team is your mom rooting for?
CM: Definitely me. My dad is more seasoned, so he can suck it up.
AZR: What’s your favorite sport to play (or watch) outside of hockey?
CM: I like soccer most recently. I like watching the European leagues. My roommate, Tobias Rieder, and I have been playing a lot of FIFA on Xbox. I played lacrosse in high school when I was younger. I love that sport. It’s similar to hockey and in field lacrosse, it’s a lot easier to score. And I still enjoy watching the NFL.
AZR: What’s your typical game-day routine? Do you have any superstitions?
CM: Yeah, I stick to a pretty good routine. I try to have a similar meal – chicken parmesan with salad – and at least an hour-and-a-half nap. I just stick to the same stuff – taping your stick the same way, eating oatmeal and getting the same warmup in on the ice.
AZR: What’s your best memory from your youth hockey days?
CM: My 16U team in Columbus (Ohio) made it to nationals. We were the first team out of Columbus to make it. We ended up getting smoked in every game, but it was a little bit of a pride thing to be that first team out of Columbus to go do it.
AZR: Looking back, what do you consider your “welcome to the NHL” moment?
CM: My first game for sure. I was lucky enough to score in my first game. It felt like I was on a cloud for the whole game.
AZR: What’s your favorite restaurant in Arizona, and what’s your go-to off the menu?
CM: There are a lot of good ones. True Food Kitchen is up there in Scottsdale Quarter. One of my new favorite Italian spots is Spiga (in Scottsdale). I’m a big pasta guy.
AZR: What hockey player did you most idolize while growing up?
CM: Nicklas Lidstrom. He did everything so well. Growing up in Columbus, they would play Detroit a lot and just watching him was impressive.
AZR: What’s the best hockey prank you’ve ever seen or been part of?
CM: That’s a tough one. The ones that are bad are when people put Icy Hot in a guy’s gear. I’ve seen it put in shin pads and the whole practice, you’re dying.
AZR: It looks like you bulked up in the offseason – how much weight did you put on and how did you do it?
CM: I went from 205 to 215, so a little less than 10 pounds. I hired a power skating instructor and I knew that was something I really wanted to focus on. I skated a lot more than I usually do in the summer and it helped.
— Compiled by Matt Cooper