In the history of the Calgary Flames, some individuals have become iconic for their consistent, important contributions to the organization on and off the ice. One such individual is longtime bench fixture Jim “Bearcat” Murray.
Murray is #44 on our countdown.
Head Athletic Trainer, 1980-96
Born in Vulcan, but largely raised in the Okotoks area, Murray grew up around hockey and soon became ubiquitous with hockey in the Calgary area.
Murray served as athletic trainer with the WHL’s Calgary Centennials and Calgary Wranglers, and the WHA’s Calgary Cowboys. (Records of support staff for these clubs are spotty, but essentially Murray was working fairly consistently from the late ’60s until the Flames’ arrival from Atlanta in 1980.)
With the arrival of big-league hockey in 1980 with the Flames, Murray was hired on as athletic trainer, and became a fixture behind the Flames bench for the better part of the next two decades. If you caught a Flames game in-person or on television between 1980 and 1996, odds are you saw Bearcat’s mustachioed face behind the bench. Heck, you may have seen him hurriedly run out to check on an injured player, too.
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Murray was the heartbeat of the club for 16 seasons, a crucial behind-the-scenes piece of a club that made an appearance in the 1986 Stanley Cup Final and hoisted the Cup in 1989. (He’s one of the names forever engraved on the Cup from that 1989 team, along with son Al, the assistant trainer.)
Bearcat retired from his full-time NHL gig in 1996, but he remained active in the hockey community for years afterwards. He was honoured by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 with his name engraved on a wall of honour, as voted by the athletic trainer and equipment manager’s associations.
Murray passed away in 2022 at the age of 89, but left behind a massive legacy in the Calgary hockey community. Flat-out: the Flames would not have been the Flames without Bearcat Murray taking care of business behind the scenes and behind the bench.
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