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Don Murdoch
Don Murdoch
Right Wing
Number: 14
Height: 5' 11"
Weight: 180
Born: Oct 25, 1956
Birthplace: Cranbrook, BC, Canada
Hometown: Cranbrook, B.C.
Acquired: Rights traded to Detroit by Minnesota with Greg Smith and Minnesota's first-round choice (Murray Craven) in 1982 draft for Wings' first-round choice (Brian Bellows) on August 21, 1981.
Drafted: NYR / 1976 NHL Amateur Draft
Round: 1st (6th overall)
Don Murdoch set hockey scouts' hearts fluttering when he posted back-to-back 80-goal seasons with Medicine Hat of the WCJHL. The New York Rangers selected him sixth overall in the 1976 amateur draft.

He made the club out of his first training camp. He was put on a line with Walt Tkaczuk and Greg Polis. On the power play he was sent out with Phil Esposito and Ken Hodge. The results were immediate. In his very first professional game, he scored twice. On October 12, 1976, he scored five goals against Gary Smith of the Minnesota North Stars -- a rookie-scoring feat that only Howie Meeker had accomplished. In 15 games he scored 15 times, and that included a successful penalty shot against Curt Ridley of the Vancouver Canucks.

His fast start had made him the toast of Broadway and an All-Star. On Valentine's Day, his Cinderella season came to an end. In a freak accident, Murdoch caught his skate in the boards and suffered torn tendons in his left ankle. Surgery was ordered on the ankle in the off-season. Even so, he collected on his bet with his brother.

His second season was hampered by a shoulder injury but he still collected 27 goals. A bigger concern was a drug possession charge that was winding through the Canadian courts. In August 1977, Don Murdoch was caught at the Toronto airport with 4.5 grams of cocaine rolled up in a sock in his luggage. Years later, he admitted that the strain of his new-found stardom had turned a drinking habit into a drug addiction. After Murdoch pleaded guilty to the charge the NHL suspended him for the 1978-79 season. That suspension was reduced to 40 games on appeal.

"Murder" took part in the 1979 playoff run with the Rangers, but it was clear that he was on the way out. He was moved to the Edmonton Oilers in 1980 and played on a line with Mark Messier and Dave Semenko. Murdoch had a last shot with the Detroit Red Wings before ending his career in the minor leagues.

Following his playing career, Murdoch became a scout for the Rangers and Tampa Bay. From there he became the coach of the East Coast Hockey League Louisiana IceGators.

Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame


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