Boos cruise waiting for Turris in Phoenix?
DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
|Senators forward Kyle Turris skates during the club's skills competition at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, Ont., Dec. 28, 2011. (DARREN BROWN/QMI Agency)
LOS ANGELES - Kyle Turris could join some exclusive company Tuesday night in the desert.
If the customers at the Jobing.com Arena still care about the Phoenix Coyotes, the 22-year-old centre will likely be booed when he steps on the ice as a Senator. Maybe not to the extent that Leafs and Habs fans give it to Daniel Alfredsson, or even as loud as Sergei Gonchar gets it in Washington and Pittsburgh. But Turris will get a cold and bitter welcome back to the place where he started his career as the third pick of the 2007 draft, then last month was granted his desire to be traded.
“It’s just going to be another game, but at the same time it’s going to be a little bit of a different atmosphere for me,” said Turris, who moved to Ottawa when GM Bryan Murray outbid counterparts by trading the Coyotes David Rundblad and a second-round pick. “There might be a couple of boos thrown in there, but it’s something that comes with the expectation of playing in a league like this.
“It’ll be weird walking into the visiting room and warming up on the other side of the ice, and all that. It’s something I’m looking forward to, something I’m excited to get at.”
Not only did Turris fail to get the jumpstart to his NHL career enjoyed by the first two picks of the ’07 draft — Patrick Kane, James Van Riemsdyk — but in parts of three seasons as a Coyote, he never became a regular anywhere other than on the fourth line.
Turris was acquired by the Senators to fill the dire need for a second-line centre, and has been a perfect fit both at the position and in the room.
In 17 games for coach Paul MacLean heading into Monday’s meeting with the L.A. Kings, Turris had 13 points on four goals and nine assists. In doing so, he has developed some chemistry with Daniel Alfredsson.
“I’m definitely a lot more comfortable here,” said Turris, who had 19 goals and 27 assists in 137 games for the Coyotes. “I’m having more fun, playing more of my game and how I know I can play, compared to when I was with Phoenix.
“It’s been amazing. Coach MacLean has given the team and myself confidence, allowing us to play our game and have fun.
“Having that confidence makes you 100 times better as a hockey player. The game and the majority of sports is all about confidence. He has instilled that in me from Day 1. I can’t thank him enough for it. It’s made me feel comfortable and allowed me to play my game.
“It’s just such a great group of guys. We all mesh so well.”
Meanwhile, Turris would have no disparaging words about Coyotes coach Dave Tippett.
“He’s a good coach, he’s had a lot of success,” said Turris. “It just wasn’t the right fit for me, for many different reasons. I’m just very happy and excited and thankful to be with coach MacLean in Ottawa.”
MacLean said Turris has made the Senators a solid, four-line team.
“Our expectations were for him to come in and play, but we had none about points or this and that, it was just to get him out playing, and he’s played really well,” said MacLean. “He skates. He plays 200 feet real well. He’s been real diligent in the faceoff circle. He does a good job without the puck, he distributes it well and he shoots it well. I think, for me, he’s a player that is prevalent in the NHL right now. He’s a player that can skate and play the game at 200 feet.
“I think there’s still room for growth, still room for him to grow physically. I don’t think he’s matured into the final man’s body that he’s going to have, type of thing. When he does that, I just think he can be as good as he wants to be.”