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Monday, Nov. 12, 2018
Murray to work daily with Holtby and Grubauer
by Randy Pascal

Scott Murray is in the big leagues now.

Sure, spending the past few years under the mentorship of goaltending guru Mitch Korn, the transplanted Sudburian had already done very well for himself, serving as Assistant Goaltending Coach for the Washington Capitals and overseeing the netminders with the farm teams in both Hershey and North Charleston (South Carolina).

But with Korn looking to inch closer to retirement, sliding into the role as Director of Coaching, Murray will be "the guy", beginning in 2017-2018, working with the likes of Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer, in Washington, on a daily basis.

"Mitch would always say that his job is to make NHL goalies out of NHLers, to make NHL goalies out of minor league goalies, and to create NHL goaltending coaches out of his assistants," said Murray last week, finishing off the final stretches of his goaltending school workouts at the Gerry McCrory Sports Complex.

Korn is arguably the most accomplished current NHL goaltending coach, having worked directly with the likes of Dominik Hasek, Martin Biron, Tomas Vokoun and Pekka Rinne before following head coach Barry Trotz from Nashville to Washington.

Murray, for one, is quick to sing the praises of Korn, on a multitude of levels. "He is an unbelievable human being, first and foremost," said Murray. "His morals and values are as good as you can find. In whatever decision he is making, he always tends to fall back on simply doing the right thing."

"And he communicates extremely well, very clear, very definitive - he leaves no grey area. He loves the position, he's passionate, and he gets excited to add stuff to what he does. He's been great at allowing me to bring information to him, he definitely does not shut it out."

While the respect is evident in every word that Murray shares on his boss, the feelings run both ways. In fact, Murray was already part of the Capitals organization, hired prior to the 2013-2014, before the arrival of Trotz and Korn.

That fact that he has continued to flourish and impress a completely different set of eyes, those of people who now feel comfortable handing over the mantle for the day to day responsibility that comes with his role as "Head Goaltending Coach", suggest Murray has earned a great deal of respect as well.

With Korn only a phone call away - he will spend the bulk of his time at his home in Florida - Murray still enjoys the comfort of critical support. "What he's allowing me to do is sink my teeth into the NHL level and focus on the guys at the NHL level, without having to be overwhelmed with being the head of the department as well," said Murray.

To some, just working alongside Holtby and Grubauer might seem overwhelming enough. Murray, however, has been properly prepped for this move. "Obviously, I have a really good relationship with Philipp, just because we were in Hershey together for two years," he said.

"With Braden, I got to know him with training camps. But then last year, Mitch would go home for one week a month, and that really allowed me to build a relationship, in season, with Braden. I was hands off, for the most part, because he was playing so well. If he had any questions, I was there."

And so they move forward, looking to improve on a tandem that featured near identical save percentages of .925 and .926 last year. "With Gruby, I can probably do a little bit more teaching early, just because we already have that relationship," suggested Murray.

"But both of these guys understand themselves extremely well. In all reality, it's going to be a partnership with both of them, lots of discussion, throwing ideas back and forth, and trying to come up with solutions together."

Much like Korn, Murray sees his role as ever evolving, still learning each and every year that he plies his trade. "The one thing that I have really worked at doing is looking more at foundational habits," said Murray. "Mitch was huge on that."

"Situations and environments change all the time, so something has to stay consistent. We try not to get worried about three hundred different parts of the game. It really is always a strive for efficiency."

"How do I prepare in the off-season, and how do I move on the ice, making saves, recovering on the ice, all of those different things - it's a strive for efficiency, and it's a work in progress."

And while much is made of efforts to simplify the game as much as possible for those who deal with easily the most pressure of any position on the team, Murray suggests that it's important to recognize the proper balance.

"You want to be as normal as possible as much as possible," he explained. "In cases where there is a sense of urgency, you want to be more normal than urgent. If not, you want to be more urgent than desperate."

"Efficiency is using your athleticism to make the game easier on yourself," he added. "Having your body work together as normal as possible as much as possible within the game. Yes, you want to be athletic and you want to be able to go outside of the box, no doubt. But you want to take the percentage of time that you do that, and make sure it's properly balanced."

Very clear, very concise - the words of someone who has deservedly reached the pinnacle of his profession.

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