Turris has memorable debut

Senators forward Kyle Turris in action against the Sabres at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., Dec....

Senators forward Kyle Turris in action against the Sabres at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., Dec. 20, 2011. (ERROL McGIHON/QMI Agency)

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:50 PM ET

OTTAWA - As one of the top three prospects in the 2007 entry draft, Kyle Turris’ name came up during debates among Chicago Blackhawks scouts and management over who should be picked first overall.

The ‘Hawks are glad they settled on Patrick Kane, of course, but the 22-year-old from New Westminster, B.C., could still be that type of impact player, one GM was saying a few hours before Turris made his Senators debut.

To put too much pressure on him, Turris could also turn out to be another Steve Yzerman, the player he grew up idolizing and to which he has similar on-ice characteristics.

“He was my favourite player growing up,” Turris said before pulling on Ottawa red for the initial time. “I tried to be a strong defensive player as well a creative, productive offensive player.

“I put pressure on myself to produce. I’m looking forward to the challenge (here).”

Turris created a roar in his first night as a Senator. While not especially noticable in the opening two periods, he showed some quick hands and instict by quickly batting his own rebound to Erik Condra for go-ahead goal eight minutes into the third.

Even before that, Cheapseats predicted Turris is destined for nothing short of decentness, if only because of the number he wears.

NHL history is rife with greats who wore No. 7, right? Rod Gilbert with the Rangers. Phil Esposito with the Bruins. Gary Roberts with the Leafs. Rick Martin with the Sabres. Brian Kilrea with the Red Wings. Rich Brennan with the Sharks. And who could forget the former Senators captain we don’t hold anything against because he spoke only English, Randy Cunneyworth.

“I was just looking at the numbers (available) and I thought maybe it was time for a change,” said Turris, who wore ‘8’ as junior, ‘19’ in college and ‘91’ with the Coyotes. “I took a family and friends vote and No. 7 was the one.”

Good thing family and friends didn’t tell him to stick with 91. There’s disappointment associated with the digits Alex Daigle used to have on his back here in Ottawa.

If Turris becomes better than Kane, he might even be in line for some endorsement opportunities. Maybe he could do something for the coffee chain named after another former No. 7: the late Tim Horton, formerly of the Sabres (and Leafs).

“I’m not a coffee guy,” Turris said when asked if he prefers Timmies or Starbucks. My girlfriend and my mom love Starbucks. But I know all my buddies back home love Tim Hortons.”

The buddies must have weighed in heavy on the decision for Turris to wear No. 7.

STARTS AND STOPS

Being the team leader he is, Jason Spezza hosted the Senators Christmas party the other night. “Great batch of egg nog,” said Zack Smith, who notched his ninth goal of the season Tuesday on a smart follow-up to a Chris Neil breakaway. “Good assortment of chips and pop .. any kind of pop you want.” Rookie Kaspars Daugavins was Santa. “Somebody had to do it,” said Daugavins. Said Smith: “He didn’t even have to stuff his belly. Just had a big lunch.” Daugavins had a gift staring at him in the face during the first period against the Sabres, but Ryan Miller whipped out his glove to make a great save ... Nick Foligno was tickled that he could play against his younger brother in Marcus’ NHL debut. Asked early in the day what kind of player Marcus is, Nick didn’t hesitate. “He’s ugly.” he said. What do you have to say for yourself Marcus? “I thought I got the better looks in the family.” Remember when Nick did the famous “Foligno Leap” in honor of his father after scoring his first NHL goal. “If Marcus scores, I’ll do the leap,” said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff.

STUFF I THINK I THUNK

Not sure how Paul Gaustad was allowed off the hook — by the refs and the Senators — for knocking Jesse Winchester wobbly with a hit into the boards from behind. Maybe, like with all things Gaustad, there’s a one-game delayed reaction before any attempt at retribution ... Told Condra Tuesday morning he was going to score two, when I heard he was going to be a radio guest in the second intermission. Just thought he’d have them both by then, is all ... By Christmas, it appears the Senators have become the second best team in the Northeast Division. Who woulda thunk it?

BETWEEN PERIODS

Steve Duchene doesn’t look a whole lot different than he did in 1997, when he scored the historic goal that put the Senators into the playoffs for the first time. “Other than winning the Cup,” he said at Scotiabank Place Tuesday. “It was the most memorable time in my career.” Duchesne now lives in Dallas, where he and businessman Douglas H. Miller are the co-owners of the Central Hockey League’s Allen Americans — an affiliate of the Stars and the Avalanche. “Last year my partner tried to put a bid togther to buy the Stars,” said Duchesne. “It was interesting to be involved, studying the numbers and all that. Unfortunately we didn’t get it, but it was a good learning experience. Who knows, maybe one day. I wouldn’t mind getting back involved in something, hockey-wise. I’ve got a 16-year old girl and a 15-year old son ... as long as my 16-year-old girl doesn’t meet a hockey player I’m really happy.”

MAKES YOU GO HMMM ...

On one of its last night's of work, the outdated scoreboard must have been drunk. In the second period it stated that, on this day in 1922, the Senators obtained Bob Kudelski ... Oh, the refs got Guastad for roughing with 3:05 left in the third. Not a good one to take with your team down by one ... Chirs Neil-Peter Regin-Smith was a very effective unit for the Senators late in the game, just as Colin Greening-Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson were early.

KONOPKA CORNER

QMI Agency: What ranks as your best-ever Christmas present?

Konopka: “I got this truck, this black truck, and I loved this truck. I took the truck everywhere. I cleaned the truck when it was dirty and for a few years I wouldn’t let this truck go. I also remember getting a new hockey stick too. Usually my dad got them at the gas station, back when you’d fill up and get a hockey stick, but this was actually a KOHO. It didn’t last very long before it broke, but my dad tried to tape it up...

QMI: The funniest gift?

Konopka: “My older cousin would buy me G.I. Joe gifts every Christmas. It was cool when I was eight, nine, but it went right until I was 16. I’m like ‘Aww thanks!’ and he’d be like ‘Hey let’s put it together!’ and I’d say, ‘Oh, I’ll do it at home’ ... I didn’t want to put it together, so he’d put it together himself. Finally I was like, ‘Why don’t you just hold onto it for the year?’ ... He finally stopped buying me G.I. Joe.


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