Joe Murphy was the first overall pick in the 1986 NHL draft.
He spent 15 years in the NHL — four with the Chicago Blackhawks. The two-time 30-goal scorer even helped lead the Edmonton Oilers to a Stanley Cup win in 1990.
Now, though, Murphy is homeless — living on the streets in western Ontario.
According to a TSN documentary that aired on Wednesday, Murphy has been living in Kenora, Ontario — just north of the Minnesota border — in homeless shelters, bushes, the woods and in dumpsters.
And he’s been doing so for years.
“I’ve actually been living homeless in shelters across Ontario and in different areas for many years now, so it hasn’t been easy,” Murphy told TSN.
Murphy played for seven different teams in his 15 year NHL career. He scored 233 goals and twice led his teams in scoring.
In 1991, though, while he was with the Oilers, Murphy took a big hit across the boards from Detroit Red Wings forward Shawn Burr. That’s when things started to change.
“Yeah, I definitely noticed changes,” Murphy’s sister, Cathy, told TSN. “He was starting to do erratic things.”
Murphy and his family believe the biggest reasons for his struggle was due to the head trauma he suffered as a player. He was a part of the failed class-action concussion lawsuit against the NHL this year, too, and even reached out to help from the director of NHL counseling shortly after his career ended.
He never received any.
“I was so f—– up. I picked up the phone … and I said, ‘I’m not really feeling that well. I’m not doing well, I don’t think. I maybe need some help,'” Murphy recalled.
“You know what he said to me? He said, ‘Well, I’m sorry to say this to you, but you’re out of the league now. So, there’s no help we can give you.’ He hung the phone right up on me.”
The NHL did not return TSN’s requests for comment.
According to the documentary, Joe’s family has been worried about trying to contact him for several years, fearing that any interaction with him may have a negative effect. The NHL Players Association reportedly offered him help last year, but he turned them down.
For now, he’s spending his time in Kenora, often sitting outside a convenience store talking to those in town and sharing his stories.
Though that rarely has to do with hockey.
“I just want them to take care of me as a person,” Murphy said. “If I say I’m a player, it’s not going to change their view of me as a man or a person. I just felt that I was going to say my name, and that’s it.
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