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One New York Islanders Fan’s Quest to Honor Father & Former Equipment Manager

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New York Islanders Terry Joe Skating

For New York Islanders fan Joe Murphy, the last two seasons have been a dream come true. He’s watched his beloved Islanders make back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Semifinals, a first in his lifetime, but he hasn’t been able to shake one feeling through all of it.

He wishes that his father, Terrence “Terry” Murphy, was still alive to experience it as well. Terry passed away in December of 2019 after his health began to fail.

“The only thing I wish is that is this team and this regime was going on at some point during his healthier days,” Joe Murphy told NYI Hockey Now during a phone interview. “Even just towards the later years of his life when he could still go to games and stuff like that. We were so bad for so long and I just wish that. … That postseason in the bubble was just such a magical run and I couldn’t help but feel like that was going to be the year.

“Obviously, it didn’t happen, but then it happened again last year it’s like, he’s telling me something.”

Joe and Terry’s bond over their love of the New York Islanders was similar to that of many fathers and sons across Long Island, save for one thing. Most kids’ dads didn’t work for the team they loved. Terry had been part of the Islanders equipment staff, first as a stick boy for the visiting locker room at 18 years old and he worked his way up to assistant equipment manager in 1988.

Terry spent four years at the job he loved, with Joe, now 35, getting to meet some of his childhood idols along the way.

However, life changed drastically for Terry in August of 1991 when he noticed a black spot in his vision. Doctors quickly discovered two detached retinas and he would eventually lose his sight at the age of 27.

While Terry had stepped away from hockey after the 1991-92 season, the Islanders and the players never stepped away from him.

The Islanders helped set Terry up with the Helen Keller Services for the Blind in Hempstead. Former Islanders assistant coach Darcy Regier suggested to Isles alumni that they donate a machine that would talk to Terry and help him with school work and other day-to-day activities.

So, Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies and a few other alumni used the money raised from a charity hockey game to pay for it. The Islanders would even go as far as to host a charity softball game every year along with Terry’s blind softball team, the Babylon Beepers, with the proceeds going to different blind-related charities.

“The Islanders, especially during those early years when the regime that was there when my dad was there, really made him feel like part of the team,” Joe said.

It’s those memories that sparked an idea for Joe on Monday after the New York Islanders tweeted that they were holding a vote to name their latest Puppy with a Purpose. Joe sent out a tweet asking a few Islanders fans to write in the name “Murph” as a tribute as a fitting homage to the relationship the team had with his dad and the black labs that Terry had as guide dogs after he lost his sight.

“I remembered Torrey and I remembered Radar,” Joe said. “Because my dad’s health wasn’t doing so good at that time, if they ever had a black lab it would be perfect for my dad. … The fact that this is the first one since he passed in December (2019) and it was a black lab guide dog, I was like if it’s not now then it’s never going to happen.”

Joe figured the tweet would get a few likes or retweets by some friends, but never imagined the response that’s come from it. His original post has been liked more than 1,000 times and has received hundreds of retweets. His tweet actually received more traction than the New York Islanders original call to vote for a name for the dog.

The hope now for Joe and the Murphy family is that there could be enough votes for the name “Murph.” The dream scenario of course is if that the Islanders win the Stanley Cup and there’s a dog named after their dad.

“If they achieve the ultimate goal at the end of this season and there’s a dog named after my dad, when’s a building going to fall on top of me,” Joe said laughing. “What else is going to happen this year that’s going to top that?”

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