Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rival Goaltenders Murray, Holtby in Unique Friendship

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Rival Goaltenders Murray, Holtby in Unique Friendship

Article excerpt

TAMPA, Fla. - Matt Murray and Braden Holtby play for rival NHL clubs, two franchises with a one-sided playoff history that leaves one fanbase laughing, the other tortured and steaming mad pretty much 24/7.

They don't care.

The way Murray and Holtby see it, they're also a part of something else, something even more powerful.

"The goaltending union is funny," Holtby said. "We're competitors, but when you see each other, you're on the same page."

Murray and Holtby are unlikely friends, but they are close and possess a tremendous amount of admiration for the other one's game.

Holtby is understandably jealous of Murray's two Stanley Cup rings. Murray envies Holtby for his metronomic consistency: The Capitals' netminder is on pace to make 60 or more starts and win 40 or more games for the fourth consecutive season.

Off the ice, Murray and Holtby are a little on the quiet side but tremendously intelligent, well-spoken and have several shared interests: Both play guitar and are way into music; fashion interests them, though their tastes are very different; and they have a deep appreciation for the mental side of the game.

They're also from small, cozy and beautiful Canadian cities - Murray Thunder Bay in Ontario, Holtby Lloydminster in Saskatchewan.

"We have a lot in common, a lot of the same interests," Holtby said. "He's down to earth. He's a student of the game. He likes to learn those things. It's fun to meet those guys, guys with similarities."

Murray and Holtby first got together last season through Steve Oleksy, who played for Washington and Pittsburgh. They've remained close and often try to mimic stuff the other one does.

"Obviously I admire his game a lot," Holtby said. "Ever since he came into the league, he's one of those guys where the new wave is teaching us old guys in some areas. You can analyze his game, pick a few things out of it you'd like to get better at."

Which might rankle some Capitals or Penguins fans, but that's OK with Murray and Holtby. They're happy to have struck such a solid friendship.

"We're both hockey players," Holtby said. "We're both goalies. …

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