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August 31, 2009

Allan Murray

Since the New York Americans are a long forgotten chapter in NHL history, it comes as no surprise that defenseman Allan Murray is all but forgotten, too.

The tiny (5'7", 165lbs) defenseman played 271 games for the Amerks from 1933 to 1940. He scored just 5 goals and 14 points. He was most commonly defense partners with Joe Jerwa, with Hall of Famers Hap Day and Ching Johnson on the first unit.

Murray was born in Stratford, Ontario on November 10th, 1908. He would become a youth and junior hockey star in Stratford before moving to South Porcupine to play for the Porkies in 1927.

His strong defensive play attracted the Buffalo Bisons, who acquired his contract in 1928. He would play in Buffalo for the next five years, before signing as a free agent with the NHL Americans. The Amerks clearly were interested in his ties to hockey in New York state as well as his solid play.

Over the next seven seasons the Amerks felt the ups and downs of Great Depression life in the NHL. Their best season came in 1937-38 when they let in the fewest goals in the Canadian division and upset their strong cross city rivals, the Rangers.

Led by the Chapman-Schriner-Carr line and their good defense, the Americans enjoyed their finest moment when Lorne Carr scored the overtime goal that beat the powerful Rangers and won the series. The amazing Amerks almost made it to their first Stanley Cup final when in game two of the series against Chicago. Nels Stewart had apparently scored the winning goal, but referee Clarence Campbell---later to be NHL president---ruled that Eddie Wiseman was in the crease. The defensive heroics of Jerwa and Murray - who only had 1 assist all season - could not save the Americans in the third and final game, and Chicago won the series and then won the Cup in probably the biggest upset of all time, beating Toronto.

Hard luck hit the Amerks in 1938-39. Hap Day and Ching Johnson retired, and to make matters worse, Murray was injured much of the year, wrecking his shoulder in a game against Boston. Hooley Smith took over Murray's defense position, but didn't do too well as the Americans gave up the most goals against in the NHL that year.

Murray would return for one more season, but would retire at the conclusion of the 1939-40 season.

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