SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Sioux Falls Stampede is attempting to bounce back after missing the USHL Clark Cup playoffs last spring for the first time since 2017.
Marty Murray is entering his second season as head coach and general manager.
Marty Murray grew up in Manitoba, Canada. He says hockey is almost a religion north of the border and got his start in the sport when he was still in diapers.
“My dad grew up around the game, my mom did too, so it was kind of a natural thing I guess, but just fell in love with it. I was one of those kids that was on the ice at 2, 3-years-old and kicking and screaming going off, so it was just kind of born into me and it’s been a big, big part of my life ever since,” Stampede Head Coach Marty Murray said.
Murray was selected 96th overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft on the same day as another major milestone. Marty skipped the draft in Quebec to attend his high school graduation.
“Those were the days when there wasn’t cell phones, there wasn’t social media, so I remember getting a call from my junior hockey coach saying I was drafted in the fourth round by Calgary. Made the day obviously extra special coinciding with the high school graduation, a pretty memorable day in my life,” Murray said.
Murray spent more than a cup of coffee in the NHL scoring 31 goals and 42 assists with four teams over eight seasons.
“I started playing against Gretzky and at the end of my career I was playing against Crosby and a lot of players in between there too. Sometimes you have to pinch yourself, but you realize you have a job to do to go out there and perform at your best ability and I enjoyed every second of it,” Murray said.
After tearing his ACL in 2005, Murray started thinking about life after hockey. He retired in 2010 and quickly landed his first coaching job in the NAHL.
“Was living in Minot, North Dakota at the time. My wife’s from just outside of there and it’s only an hour away from where I grew up in Canada and they asked me to be the assistant coach year one and I took that role on and next thing you know I was head coach/GM there for nine years,” Murray said.
That’s when the Stampede came calling.
“We asked around the hockey community and his name came up quite a bit that this would be someone that you should target and talk to,” Stampede President Jim Olander said.
“I moved around a lot playing and I didn’t necessarily want to do that as a coach. This opportunity came up, a great organization, we drove down and had a look at the facilities and the city itself and we fell in love with it,” Murray said.
Murray was named head coach in April 2020.
“Not only is Marty a great coach, but he’s such a great person and he cares about people, and he cares about the players. That goes a long way to building a good hockey team and hopefully getting us to that next level,” Olander said.
“He’s a little more laid back, but if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to he’ll get on you a little bit, so that’s good,” Stampede Center Garrett Pinoniemi said.
Season one had its ups and downs, including time in quarantine.
“I remember doing video with one of our players and we were in my office for about 20 minutes and the next day he came down with symptoms and tested positive. Obviously being a close contact, I couldn’t be around the team for probably ten days but fortunately I never got it but I was kind of holding my breath there for a little bit,” Murray said.
A rough close to the season resulted in a last place finish in the standings but fall offers a fresh start.
“Hopefully, those guys that maybe took some lumps last year can make that transition to be everyday players that contribute to our team’s success,” Murray said.
Helping pave the way for individual success.
“You can trust what he’s saying and there’s a lot to learn,” Pinoniemi said.
“He’s gone through this; he knows what it’s going to take to get to that next level as we’re trying to get these guys not only prepared for the collegiate level but also the professional level. He’s certainly the right instructor to do so,” Olander said.
After playing for 14 teams in 15 professional seasons, coach Murray has no desire to pick up and go.
“I’m not a guy that’s always going to chase the next thing. I’m content here, I still think I can learn and get better and most of all we’re in a great situation here in Sioux Falls and we cherish it every day,” Murray said.
Murray was elected to the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019.