Induction thrills Bearcat

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:33 AM ET

Bearcat could barely contain his enthusiasm last night in Toronto.

True to his personality, the legendary Calgary Flames trainer was all smiles and gave a thumbs-up to the TSN TV cameras before waving to the crowd and blowing a kiss when he was recognized for his commitment to the game during the Hockey Hall of Fame inductions.

"I am so excited," said Jim Murray, the longtime trainer better known to the hockey world as 'Bearcat.'

"I'm so excited, I am peeing my pants."

Who can blame the longtime puck enthusiast if he did? After all, last night was his to savour -- a fairy-tale finish for a 29-year career in sports therapy.

Bearcat Murray was honoured alongside a standout Hockey Hall-of-Fame Class of 2009 for his 16-year tenure as trainer with the NHL club.

"Shirley and I already have had our picture taken beside my picture in the Hall of Fame," said Murray of his Hall-of-Fame adventure that began Saturday with his wife and family in The Big Smoke.

"He's excited ... sure," said former Flames leader Jim Peplinski, who joined Murray on behalf of the Flames at the festivities in Toronto. "He's been excited about life as long as I can remember, so when you give him another reason to get excited, you can't keep up to him."

Not many in his line of work could possibly keep up. A born-and-bred Albertan, Murray moved from Vulcan to Okotoks in 1937 and would later begin his career as an athletic trainer and therapist in both football and hockey.

Before joining the Flames, he worked for the AJHL's Calgary Centennials, the WHA's Calgary Cowboys, the WHL's Calgary Wranglers and the CFL's Calgary Stampeders.

In conjunction with the Flames, the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society and the Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers selected Murray as the 2009 inductee into the athletic trainer category this past June.

Each year, the PHATS/SPHEM Hall of Fame Committee selects one outstanding individual for induction. And Murray sure fits the bill.

In introducing him to the masses during last night's ceremony, legendary broadcaster Dick Irvin referred to Murray as one of the game's "all-time characters."

Those who know him well had more to offer.

"He's served selflessly for years," Peplinski said.

"He's old-school and all good," said Flames president Ken King. "He's likely the best-known and best-loved trainer not only in Calgary but in all of hockey ... And Bearcat is an absolutely indelible part of this club," King added.

TODD.SAELHOF@SUNMEDIA.CA


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