August 1, 2012
Alfie answers Turris' prayers
By DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency
When it’s finally time for him to report back to work, Kyle Turris will have spent all but three weeks of his off-season in Ottawa getting bigger and stronger under the strict supervision of Senators strength and conditioning coach Chris Schwarz.
However, his biggest gains as a player were made with a simple announcement from Sweden, when all he had to do was sit back and smile.
As the Senators’ second-line centre, the 22-year Turris old should benefit most from the return of Daniel Alfredsson. When he woke up Tuesday, Turris would have had no idea who his wingers would be next season. Before his breakfast was digested, it was confirmed that the top scorer in franchise history was returning for his 17th season in a Senators jersey.
Just so happens he skated mostly on Turris’ right last season, and Alfredsson should line up there again when the 2012-13 campaign commences.
“Alfie! Alfie! Alfie!,” Turris tweeted upon learning the news. “Can’t wait to get back on the ice with him this year and hear the Alfie chants in #scotiabankplace.”
Shortly thereafter, he expanded on his excitement.
“I was just praying every night when I went to bed that he’d be coming back,” Turris, who notched 12 goals and 29 points in 49 games for the Senators after being acquired in a December trade with the Coyotes, told the Sun from Vancouver. “It’s awesome. It’s something that gives our team a huge boost.
“I’m really pumped. I can’t wait to get back on the ice with him and not just feed him the puck on the same line, but at the same time just learn from everything he does in practice ... the keep-away drills we play at the end of practice ... and just keep watching and learning from him.
“Obviously, to have the opportunity to play with him, and work give-and-go’s ... it’s something really special. I’m thanking my lucky stars I get to be on the same line with him and experience really how good he is first hand.”
Turris pointed out that Alfredsson’s presence benefits all Senators players, both when he’s on the ice and offering advice on the bench.
“Definitely, I can’t even start to explain how much he helps me as a centreman,” said Turris. “If I’m the last guy back into the defensive zone, he’s covering for me down low and I’m taking his wing...he’s so good and strong on the puck, that he’s really good defensively, down low. Things like breaking out of the zone, it’s like a quick give-and-go to get going into the offensive zone, the neutral zone, we’re both going with speed, and he can just create so much.
“He’s so creative as a player, it just makes it so much to fun to play with him. He’s like (Jason Spezza) that way. He’s creative and he does things that normal guys can’t do. Playing with him, just kind of watching him do it, then feed me for an open net, it’s really neat.”
Among those getting a shot to win the left wing job on that second line will be Guillaume Latendresse, a proven scorer trying to outrun the injury bug.
“I think it’s great,” Turris said of that free-agent signing. “I’ve seen him a few times the past couple of years, when I was with Phoenix and he was with Minnesota. He’s a big, strong winger that has great finish. I think he’s going to be a great addition to the team.”
Which brings us back to Turris, and the personal improvements he has made since season’s end. For Spezza to make the first line click, Turris will have to continue his emergence as a force that can distract checkers from time to time. He’s preparing as such.
“Schwartzie brought up some really good points that I wanted to improve on, I know I needed to work on,” said Turris, whose only true vacation time has been a week spent in Minnesota, visiting his girlfriend Julie’s family, and the two more weeks they’ve been with his clan on the west coast. “We really kind of got after that. Hopefully it will pay off.”
“The general stuff, getting stronger, stronger on the puck, building strength and muscle, in terms of gaining weight,” said Turris, who was last listed at 6-foot-1 and a seemingly generous 195 pounds. “Things like my balance, kind of working on that stuff. Schwartzie’s really good. I’ve really enjoyed working with him. He’s helped me a lot. I’ve felt and seen improvement in everything we’ve worked on. I feel really good.”