That defenseman Terry Murray of the Washington Capitals is the brother of Coach Bryan Murray tends to magnify every move he makes under the critical eyes of hockey fans more impatient for success than knowledgeable about the sport.
An errant pass by Terry Murray is likely to bring to Bryan Murray's ears a raucous cry such as, "Come on, Murray, get your (varied adjectives) brother out of there." It is sometimes difficult to ignore such abuse.
"One night, after we won the hockey game and I thought Terry had played pretty well, somebody yelled, 'Get rid of your brother,' and I'm afraid I responded, probably more than I should have," Bryan Murray said.
"Unless you're fairly knowledgeable about hockey, you don't appreciate a player like Terry. He plays for everybody else. He's a player's player.
"Terry will never be spectacular and I guess you can point a finger at his style of play. But he's consistent, he passes the puck extremely well, he knows the game and he helps whoever is paired with him. I know I'll get the same thing from him 99 out of 100 nights."
Sunday was the 100th night. Besides his usual steady defensive game, Murray had a goal, two assists and a plus-four rating. He was selected as the No. 1 star in the 8-3 rout of Pittsburgh and the crowd's response indicated that his long wait for recognition in Washington is over.
Another wait ended Tuesday, when Murray's wife, Linda, gave birth to the couple's first child, a daughter. A week overdue, the newest Murray created enough of a fuss for the father to rush home from Long Island and he was an absentee for Tuesday night's 7-6 loss to the Islanders. One can only surmise that his presence might have produced a different result.
"A couple of times they just walked in," said Coach Murray. "Terry picks that sort of thing up pretty well. He's a very unnoticed person, but it wasn't hard to see that he was missing."
The Capitals used the waiver draft to pluck Murray from Philadelphia, where he posted an outstanding plus-46 rating a year ago, sixth best in the NHL. One month after he joined the Capitals, a 13-game losing streak brought brother Bryan to the rescue.
Both brothers insist there have been no problems with other players because of their relationship.
"The players have been really good about it," Terry Murray said. "There's been no kidding whatsoever. They know Bryan will not give me special treatment. If anything, to prove he's not showing favoritism, he'll go the other way and work me a little harder."
Murray, because of concern that it might be misinterpreted by other players, declined to discuss their childhood for a feature story when his brother became coach. The only manner in which he has exploited their relationship came in Buffalo, when the team was unexpectedly stranded and the player borrowed money from the coach.
Terry Murray, 31, was the youngest boy in a family of 10 and Bryan, 39, was his coach in high school hockey, volleyball and basketball at Shawville, Quebec. Their relationship always has been more that of coach and player than that of brothers.
"I went away to college when he was young and later I taught him from grade nine up," Bryan Murray said. "I was the guy making demands of him and another brother (Billy), telling them to work hard and play hard. We're good friends, but I was always careful not to do anything that could be interpreted as favoritism, and I guess that kept us from getting really close."
"We're a close family," his brother said, "but he was a few years ahead of me. If I'm 15 or 16 and he's 25, there are different groups you hang out with. But Bryan was always interested in me. When Billy and I were playing in Pembroke, Bryan frequently drove us there to practices and to games. We didn't have a lot in common other than hockey, though, and Bryan was closer to an older brother."
After high school, Terry Murray went on to junior hockey in Ottawa, then started a career as a pro hockey vagabond, with Washington the 11th stop along the way. The Capitals are his fourth big-league club and, tonight at Capital Centre against the Islanders, he will play his 278th NHL game.