BOSTON – Brian Murphy still gets a little bit choked up when he reminiscences about an unexpected phone call he received a few years ago from Kilian McNamara.
Murphy had helped mentor McNamara, a young and up-and-coming official at the time, and McNamara just learned he had been hired by the NHL.
McNamara wanted to share the news with Murphy, but he also had a question for his mentor.
“He called me up in August one Sunday afternoon at like 2 o’clock,” Murphy said Wednesday prior to the 2023 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. “I wasn’t expecting a call. He goes, ‘Hey, I just got hired by the NHL, and I am going to where your number.’”
“It was just the greatest. He asked to wear it, and I said, ‘Absolutely.’
“Those are the stories I appreciate the most.”
McNamara is just one of the countless officials Murphy has helped mentor, develop, encourageand support for more than four decades. It is those interactions that Murphy cherishes when he reflects upon his now Hall of Fame career.
Murphy had one of the most accomplished on-ice officiating careers in the history of the NHL.
The Dover, New Hampshire, native is one of two Americans, and just eight individuals all time,to officiate over 2,000 NHL regular-season games. During his 32-year career (1988-2020), Murphy officiated nine Stanley Cup Finals and 304 playoff games, as well as other high-profile NHL events like the 1999 NHL All-Star Game in Tampa, Florida, and the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston.
Murphy also boasts an accomplished international officiating resume, including the 2004 and 2016 World Cup of Hockey, and 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Murphy served as the president of the NHL Officials Association from 2008-15 and was also on the organization’s executive board from 1994-99.
Murphy made his NHL debut in 1988 in a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals and was promoted to a full-time NHL linesman for the 1990 season. As an official during the NHL’s transition period to the two-referee system, Murphy is one of a few officials to work as both a referee and a linesman.
“Nobody goes into officiating to be recognized,” Murphy said. “Nobody wants to be recognized when you're an official. The biggest thing I just wanted to walk out the back of the building and nobody know who I am I'm walking out the back door.”
Murphy’s greatest impact may be his endless dedication to teaching and mentoring the next generation of officials. Murphy is currently the supervisor of men’s officials for Hockey East and he has been an instructor at USA Hockey officiating development camps for more than three decades.
Throughout the day on Wednesday, Murphy’s cell phone was continuously buzzing with congratulatory remarks. He also received a raucous ovation from the countless officials who attended the 2023 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Westin Copley Place.
“I've had younger officials text me all day today,” Murphy said. “That's the probably the biggest thing I'm more proud of than anything I did on the ice because that was more of an individual thing. Where, you know, I want to see other people be successful. I was never really worried about my own success.”
“Forty years of being involved in officiating, both at the collegiate level and the professional level. The biggest thing for me was I know that I'm being inducted for my accomplishments in the NHL on the ice, and the numbers I did there, and what I accomplished there, but probably more important to me is that what I've done off the ice and away from the game trying to develop younger officials.”
Mentorship is something Murphy will continue to be dedicated to as the need to train and retain officials at all levels of the game remains critical.
Murphy explained how he had his own mentors – Dan Rapasa, Kevin Collins, Dan Schachte, Mark Rudolph to name a few – throughout different stages of his career, including when he first got started as an official at the youth, high school and adult levels while attending the University of New Hampshire in 1983.
During his induction speech in Boston, Murphy remembered a piece of advice that always stuck with him.
“My dear friend Terry Gregson told me one time, ‘Murph, you are not going to be remembered for how much you learned, but how much you taught.’ “Those words were never more true.”
It is just a reminder of how “huge” mentorship can be for officials.
“When I first came into the business, I worked with people who had a tremendous amount of experience. So many people helped mentor me when I came in.”
“When you have a huge turnover of officials, that can be lost. Especially at the youth, college professional level, the biggest thing about officiating is mentoring. The person you are working with out on the ice can teach you more than anybody else. It is what is all about and it is what made me successful. It also what I took the most pride in. Mentoring other officials.”