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Murley Likes His Situation

If Avs Demote Troy Native, He'd Play for River Rats

By Mark Singelais

Albany Times Union, July 15, 2006

Troy native Matt Murley signed a one-year contract with the Colorado Avalanche this week, which means he could play for the Albany River Rats in the 2006-07 season.

The Avalanche is entering its first season as an NHL affiliate of the American Hockey League's River Rats. Both Colorado and the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes will supply players to Albany.

"There's a few teams that called my agent, and (Colorado) looked like the best chance to make the team right out of camp," Murley said. "If I do, unfortunately, get sent down (to the minors), then I'm going to a pretty good place."

Murley, a left wing who starred at RPI, spent the past four years in the Pittsburgh Penguins' organization. He played in 59 games with Pittsburgh and 216 contests with the Penguins' AHL team in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Murley spent 41 games with Pittsburgh last season, scoring one goal with five assists, before undergoing season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The Penguins opted against re-signing him when Murley became a free agent after the season.

"I liked (Pittsburgh) a lot," he said. "It's changed the last couple of years, a lot of turnover. I had a great time there, and I met a ton of nice people and good friends."

Pittsburgh drafted him with its second-round pick in 1999, after his freshman season at RPI.

Murley, 26, said he has enjoyed playing in Pepsi Arena when he was a member of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

"That was part of the reason (for signing with the Avalanche)," Murley said. "I've played well there, and it will be fun to play at home again. It gives you a little extra energy at home when your friends and family are there."

But Murley said he believes he can begin the season in Denver.

"(The Avalanche) could use some guys like me," he said. "Their first two lines and pretty set, but there are definitely opportunities on their third and fourth lines to be the extra forward. If I do get sent down, that's how you play when you're down: to get called back up."

Murley said he received a two-way contract that will pay him according to whether he's in the NHL or minors.

"We'd love to have a local guy on our roster," River Rats president Garen Szablewski said. "From a marketing standpoint, he's a good player, and he has a lot of local support with family and friends."

Murley said he's looking forward to moving from the Penguins, who finished with the second-fewest points in the NHL last year, to a Colorado team that's a Stanley Cup contender almost every year.

"It's a great organization, a great building, and great fans," Murley said. "They've had a ton of success, and they've got some really good players like (Joe) Sakic and (Milan) Hejduk. I like the idea of a fresh start somewhere new. I'm really excited."

Murley said his shoulder is "100 percent." He's training at a rink in Mount Kisco with other professional players, something he's done every summer since he attended RPI.