Follow the leader

SCOTT ZERR -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

Edmonton's history of great leaders in sport is well known.

Mark Messier and Dan Kepley stand out among the group who were front and centre when the teams went to battle. Andrew Turner is barely three months into living in the city but he does wear a 'C' on his Edmonton Rush jersey.

That letter puts a lot of pressure on his shoulders and as a leader he has to carry the load.

FIRST DOG INTO THE FIGHT

Turner won't be barking at his teammates. He will, though, be the first dog into the fight.

"I like to think of myself as a lead-by-example guy," said Turner, whose Rush play their first National Lacrosse League game tonight against the San Jose Stealth.

"If you're always yelling at guys and you're not doing what you're getting on other guys for, that doesn't hold any ground. If you go out and play as hard as you can and everyone else seems to be playing every shift like it's their last then that speaks louder than words."

At times, Turner can be a lone wolf. He's travelled throughout Central America and the Caribbean by himself and even went on a solo bike tour from Ontario to B.C. to attend a wedding. But the 27-year-old doesn't feel he's standing on his own in the leadership department.

"Just because I'm wearing the 'C' doesn't mean I'm alone in driving the ship. We need everyone here," said Turner, who will be backed by assistants Jamey Bowen and Brad Dairon.

"I'm not necessarily a rah-rah guy. We have enough high-energy guys that I don't have to jump into that role."

Turner has worn the assistant's 'A' for several years, both in the NLL with Rochester and in the summer season with the Victoria Shamrocks. But a 'C' hasn't been stitched on his jersey since he was a 21-year-old junior in St. Catharines. Still, there was no hesitation when it came time for the choice of captain to be made.

"He may not be very vocal but he does a good job of taking control of the team when he does talk," said Rush head coach Paul Day. "It's not always how he says something, but what he says."

The follow-my-lead approach has served Turner well over his six years in the NLL. At no time was that more evident than last season, which turned out to be his last in Rochester.

He was not only selected by his teammates as their most valuable player, but also recognized by the league as both a first team All-Pro and the NLL's Defensive Player of the Year. Those credentials made it simple for the Rush to give up a first-round draft pick in exchange for Turner.

'HE'S SO GOOD ON THE FLOOR'

"He is so good on the floor that you sometimes forget how good a guy he is off the floor," said Rush goalie Dwight Maetche, who was Turner's teammate this past year in Victoria.

Repeating all those accomplishments won't be an easy task for Turner with a Rush team that doesn't have the same depth that the Knighthawks boasted a year ago.

"I didn't expect that last year and I don't think it's a reasonable expectation this year," said Turner. "But I have set high goals for myself. My six years in Rochester, I wouldn't trade for anything.

"Coming here, we're starting fresh. It's not going to be like it was right off the bat, but it's something we can work towards."


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