Longtime former NHL player and coach Bob Murdoch has passed away at the age of 76 after a four-year battle with Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinsonism, and Alzheimer’s, the NHL Alumni Association said today. Murdoch spent the first three seasons of his career with the Montreal Canadiens from 1970 to 1973 before he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, where he would play until 1979. He was traded again to the Atlanta Flames, the franchise with which he would finish out his NHL career, retiring in 1982 after staying with the team during their move to Calgary.
Murdoch then spent a decade in the NHL as a coach with the Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, and San Jose Sharks. His stints with Chicago and Winnipeg were in head coaching roles, and he won a Jack Adams award in his first season with the Jets in 1989-90 after the team made a 21-point jump in the standings from the prior season.
Undrafted, Murdoch made his way to Montreal at 24 after playing for the Canadian national team and in the minors for the Montreal Voyageurs of AHL. While his role with the team was limited in the first two of his three seasons there, he did suit up in the postseason for Montreal’s Stanley Cup victories in 1971 and 1973. After a breakout year in 1972-73, recording 24 points in 69 games, he garnered a first-round pick on the trade market and was shipped to the Kings.
Murdoch had the best years of his career in California, consistently posting double-digit point totals and playing a strong brand of physical, two-way hockey. In 1974-75, he recorded career highs across the board with 13 goals, 29 assists, 42 points, a +39 rating, and 116 penalty minutes in 80 games. He earned year-end All-Star team consideration that year.
After retiring and then leaving the NHL coaching circle in 1993, Murdoch headed overseas, where he coached in Germany. He lasted just half a season with Mad Dogs München in 1994-95 but immediately found a new job in the DEL with Kölner Haie, where he stayed until 1997. He followed that up with a three-year stint behind the bench of the Nürnberg Ice Tigers from 1999 to 2002. Most recently, he served as a scout for the WHL’s Tri-City Americans from 2013 to 2015.
We at PHR send our condolences to Murdoch’s family, friends, and former teammates.