The Curious Case of Connor Murphy

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - DECEMBER 12: Connor Murphy #5 of the Chicago Blackhawks advances the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the United Center on December 12, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

When Connor Murphy was traded to the Blackhawks I was really surprised. It was a big trade that sent Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Coyotes. At the time, Hammer was known as part of the backbone of the Blackhawks defense. Stifled offenses and absorbed pucks night in and night out and always did his part. Absolutely crucial in 3 Stanley Cup wins. As you can imagine he was a fan favorite.

That being said, the thing that stood out to me at the time of the trade was how much I agreed with it. I thought we could have gotten more for a player of his caliber, but what it really comes down to is that there is never a good time to move a player like him. When you have a player like Hammer, that has done so much for the team, you never want him to go.

Ironically, after Hammer got traded to Phoenix, he finally started having some injury issues. They became lingering and he only played 1 full season after he was traded. He was still a good player but he wasn’t the same player in Phoenix that he was with The Blackhawks. In comes Connor Murphy.


Connor walked into a bad situation. The returning player for a fan favorite and it’s incredibly difficult to walk into a situation like that. To come in and take over for a 3-time cup winner and a fanbase that had grown used to excellence, it’s hard. I think it’s easy to say that Connor has done a commendable job. When he came in, he needed a bit more seasoning and the Blackhawks were coming down from their dynasty days and headed into what needed to be a rebuild.

Over that time, Connor Murphy has grown into what I believe is a solid 2nd line defenseman. Because the Blackhawks were in such need of a first pairing defenseman, he played a lot of time on the first line. I think he played well but he is better utilized on a second pairing. Luckily, he had 4 yrs in the league before coming to Chicago and being put in a position where the old guard was getting old fast and he needed to take on a bigger role quicker than anticipated. Let’s take a look at his statistics over the course of his career.

Chicago Blackhawks Website

Looking at his statistics at first glance you don’t get the sense of a player that has grown over time. Something to take into consideration is his numbers went up slightly as the team got worse over that time as well. Here is another look at him this past 3 seasons.

@JFreshHockey

As you can see, he has become a very reliable defenseman on a team that needed him to be. He has done everything that has been asked of him by the organization and taken some abuse by the fanbase at the same time. He has shouldered it all and not let it affect him or his play. He has also grown into a leader on this team and has helped mentor some of the younger guys and helped them be professionals on and off the ice.

Connor got a much-deserved contract extension this off-season and we are happy to see him continue to develop and be a big part of this team going forward.


As far as Hammer is concerned, he decided to retire from the NHL after having a tremendous career. He should be remembered as one of the best Blackhawks of all time and have his number raised into the rafters.


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