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Murley Goes to Russia

By Phil Janack

Schenectady Daily Gazette, October 9, 2008

ALBANY - In hockey vernacular, it was the equivalent of a sucker punch.

Troy native and former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute star Matt Murley left the Albany River Rats on Wednesday to accept a lucrative offer to play in Russia.

Murley, 28, was expected to play a major role both on and off the ice for the Rats, who open their 16th AHL season on Saturday.

"It's tough," Murley said "I wanted to play in Albany in front of my family and friends and with the guys, so it's tough leaving them. But I have to take care of myself first.

"It's a life experience. I get to see another part of the world, and play in a league that's compar­able to the NHL. I think it's the next step to take in my career."

Murley departed Wednesday night for Russia, where he will join Khabarovsk Amur of the Kontinental Hockey League, which is already 15 games into the regular season.

Canadian-born forward Kyle Wanvig and goalie Tyler Moss are the other North Americans on Amur, who ranked 21st in the 24-team league with 12 points on three wins, one shootout win, one shootout loss and 10 regulation losses.

Murley had considered offers from Russia this summer before signing a one-year, two-way deal Sept. 15 with the Carolina Hur­ricanes, for a guaranteed six-figure salary. He asked for, but did not get, a release from his contract, and was suspended by the 'Canes, who referred the matter to the NHL.

"We signed him to a contract, and expected him to fullfill that commitment," Carolina GM Jim Rutherford told the Raleigh News & Observer Wednesday. "Matt had a good camp for us, and we viewed him as a depth guy. We had no second thoughts about playing him if we needed him, so this is a setback."

New Albany head coach-GM Jeff Daniels learned of the decision when Murley phoned him Wednesday morning. The Rats skated at 10:30 a.m. before hosting their annual media day in the afternoon.

"He spent all night [Tuesday] thinking about it," Daniels said. "We talked about it, and he felt bad because he enjoys it here, and he has a connection here. He knew most of the guys from two years ago when he was here. It was a financial decision, I guess."

Murley made the decision after having dinner witih his family Tuesday night.

"It's something that probably developed maybe five days ago," he said. "It came up real quick, and I just ran with it. It's something that I really wanted to do, so I'm taking the opportunity and going with it."

Cohoes native Marc Cavosie, Murley's former RPI teammate who came to camp without a contract and was signed to a 25-game pro tryout on Wednesday, was surprised to hear the news.

"I know over the summer he was looking into it," Cavosie said. "I really didn't know he was still pursuing it. He obviously feels it was the best decision for him. We all have the goal to make the NHL, but at some point, you have to start thinking about the rest of your life.

"I wish him the best, and I really hope it works out for him. Here in Albany, all we can do is hope the best for him, pick up the pieces and fill the void he left."