Murray's maturity a hit with Hay

Ryan Murray skates in the team practice for Team Canada in the arena at Banff, Alberta, on December...

Ryan Murray skates in the team practice for Team Canada in the arena at Banff, Alberta, on December 16, 2011. (MIKE DREW/QMI AGENCY)

Terry Jones, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:01 PM ET

BANFF - All the other guys but one are draft picks. Twelve of them first rounders.

Many of them, such as Jonathan Huberdeau, Mark Scheifele, Mark Visentin, Brett Connolly and Devante Smith-Pelle have high profiles and recognizable names.

But Ryan Murray, the 18-year-old among 19-year-olds from White City, Sask., is the only player on the team who hasn't been draft eligible yet.

Other than the strange-but-true tale of Tanner Pearce, the twice undrafted 19-year-old who remarkably went from totally off the radar to a member of Team Canada, he's the only one who doesn't have an NHL team listed by his name on the roster.

Murray is from the opposite end of the spectrum.

Born on Sept. 27, 1993. That's what's known as a late birthday, in NHL terms, and makes him a 2012 draft.

"I don't think that really affects me," said the Everett Silvertips defenceman.

"I guess the other guys are all a little more experienced because they've been through NHL training camps. But I'm not intimidated by that. And I'm really looking forward to the tournament, looking to show them that I belong."

The entire Canadian defence is lacking in tournament experience. Nobody has played in a world junior before.

White City is a town of 1,113 near Regina that was supposed to be known as Wheat City until it was discovered there was another town of the same name and the mayor decided the least expensive way to the change the sign outside of town was to make it White City.

"I've lived there most of my life and it's a really good place to live. The people are great," said Murray.

Where else has he lived?

"Pilot Butte," he said.

Where's that?

"Five minutes away."

Anyway, the place that was to be known as Wheat City is a place that could use a new sign outside of town like the "Home of ..." signs that traditionally honour NHL stars from small-town Saskatchewan.

"I've seen them. They're pretty cool," he says.

"In Wapella, Sask., they have a sign Home of the Holloways' for a family of really good hockey players who played around Saskatchewan," he said.

Coach Don Hay was kidding Murray and Jaden Schwartz from Wilcox, Sask., about spending the week in the Canadian Rockies being a bit of an adjustment from the Saskatchewan flatlands.

"I don't think there are many mountains in Saskatchewan," he laughed.

"Breathing was a little hard today," said Murray of the hour and a half fast-paced practice at altitude.

And, yes, he said, it's a little different here than over in White City or Pilot Butte.

"This is an unreal place. And it's sure an unreal hotel," he said of the Banff Springs, which has its own bowling alley that the team used for a tournament Friday.

"We were given a tour of the hotel when we arrived and they told us about the ghosts," he said of the legend that the glorious old hotel happens to be haunted.

But it's not because of the ghosts that he can't wait to get to Edmonton for the tournament where his parents Brent and Sharon, his Regina midget AAA hockey-playing sister Melissa, his older brother Nathan and younger twin brothers Troy and Travis also all hockey players will spend the Christmas holidays.

He's a kid, like the rest of these teenagers, but Hay said he made 18-year-old Murray a member of this team of 19-year-olds because he plays a mature game.

"He's a real dependable young man," he said. "You can really count on him."

It's like the quote from Craig Hartsburg, Murray's Everett Silvertips coach who guided Canada to World Junior gold in 2007.

"He's been unbelievable since the first day I saw him. You forget how old he is. At 15 he was playing like an 18- or 19-year-old. He does everything right, he's a total professional."

He's always played older than his age.

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terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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