Reaching the pinnacle of global hockey can come in many forms. For Dover, N.H., native Brian Murphy, dream becoming reality has come via a whistle and striped jersey rather than a stick in his hands. On March 16 when the Boston Bruins hosted the Columbus Blue Jackets at TD Garden, Murphy became just the eighth person — and second American — in NHL history to officiate 2,000 regular-season games.
A linesman for all but 88 of those 2,000 games, Murphy has worked nine Stanley Cup Finals, one Olympics and one All-Star Game. He first gained traction at the 1986 Olympic Festival in Houston, earning an invite to an NHL officials training camp, and was hired part time by the NHL in 1988 before becoming full time in 1990. His debut, Oct. 7, 2018, came in a Pittsburgh Penguins-Washington Capitals tilt with one of the games’ legend in the spotlight.
Billy Jaffe: So, 1988, you are on the ice for your first NHL game. What’s the thing that you remember most about that game?
Brian Murphy: I remember Mario Lemieux played. I remember most, and it’s a small token of appreciation, but, the officials who worked the game with me, and the off-ice officials, gave me a plaque after the game with the original puck that started the game. It’s a tradition that I have actually followed on, that every time I have worked a first game with an official in this league, whether it’s their first regular-season game or first playoff game, I always get a plaque made up for them, and I get that puck, and I get that puck put on by the equipment guys. Because it’s sitting on my wall, and it’s a great memory. You forget a lot of things about that night, but the one thing that I have is that puck. You work so many years to get to that level, and to actually achieve that accomplishment, it’s overwhelming, really.