Calgary Flames Trainer Jim ‘Bearcat’ Murray’s Death at 89
The Calgary Flames announced the heartbreaking news of Jim Bearcat Murray’s death at the age of 89, in a statement shared on June 14, 2022. May he rest in peace.
“The entire Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation family extends our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jim ‘Bearcat’ Murray, who passed away on June 14 at the age of 89, “the team said in a statement.
Flames Alumni’s official Twitter account wrote: “Jim ‘Bearcat’ Murray was an exceptional human being who was the epitome of kindness and humility. He did so much for so many, contributing so much to the #Flames organization and our community. Rest in peace, Bearcat You will be missed by so many.”
Bearcat Murray who was born in 1933 in Vulcan, Alberta, Canada, served as the athletic trainer for the Calgary Flames of the NHL. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame by the Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Managers and the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society.
He earned the nickname “Bearcat” from his father, Allan, who shared the same moniker. Self-taught, Jim served first as the trainer of the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Centennials and Wranglers.
Later, he served as the World Hockey Association‘s Calgary Cowboys trainer. Murray also was an assistant trainer for the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders.
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Jim ‘Bearcat’ Murray’s Death Breaks Hearts
The Calgary Flames shared Jim ‘Bearcat’ Murray’s death news, but the team did not reveal his cause of death. After sharing the sad news, many fans also shared their deepest condolences and paid tribute to Murray.
In 1980, he joined the Flames as their head athletic trainer when the team arrived after relocating from Atlanta, Georgia. He hold the position until his retirement in 1996.
Murray was a part of the Flames’ 1989 Stanley Cup championship season. He was famously on the ice, tending to fallen goaltender Mike Vernon while the match was still ongoing, as the Calgary Flames scored a goal during the 1989 playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings.
Mike Vernon explained later that he wasn’t hurt on the play, but went down trying to draw a penalty after being punched by a Kings player. He said: “I’m lying there wondering when might be a good time to sit up,”
He continued: “All of a sudden there’s Bearcat kneeling overtop of me … We’d just scored a goal with him on the ice and (Wayne) Gretzky was going ballistic. I think Bear thought I’d better be hurt or he might lose his job.”
Jim once went up into the stands to rescue his son Al, tearing ligaments in his leg in the process, during a game against the Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton.
His son had been in the stands attempting to retrieve defenceman Gary Suter‘s stick, which had been knocked into the public and was being hidden by Oiler fans.
Fearing things were going to escalate, Murray jumped into the fray himself. He blew kisses for the cameras while being wheeled into an ambulance.
The incident caught the attention of fans in Boston, who formed the “Bearcat Murray Fan Club”, and later began showing up at the Boston Garden wearing skull caps and mustaches mimicking Jim’s looks when the Flames played there.
John Hutchings, Frank MacNeil, Micheil Innes, Robert Meurin, Charles Robison, and Jeff Needham, were among the original members of the ‘Bearcat Murray Fan Club – Montreal Chapter’
Between 1987–91, his fans would attend Calgary Flames games at the Montreal Forum, wearing oversized mustaches and skull caps. He would often meet the group for drinks at Peel Pub.
Jim also generously provided access to tickets and the locker room area after games. Even though the group disbanded after 1991, they have remained in contact and often see Bearcat at Calgary Flames home games, where he now works as a community ambassador.
After he retired as the Flames’ trainer in 1996, he remained with the club as a community ambassador. Murray was the 1st person in PHATS history to be unanimously voted into the Hall of Fame.
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