GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kyle Turris might never have to answer the Coyotes question again after Tuesday night’s game at Jobing.com Arena. And if he keeps up this point-a-game pace for the Ottawa Senators, he might never have to answer questions about his offensive ability either.
“It’s a part of my career that I’ll never forget,” Turris said Tuesday after Ottawa’s morning skate at the arena. “I’ve got lots of good memories here, from my first NHL game, to my first point, the playoffs with Detroit. They are going to stick with me for a long time, but I am very thankful I’m in Ottawa.”
Let’s take a moment to jog Coyotes’ fans memories on how that came about.
Before the 2011-12 season, Turris held out in hopes of garnering a long-term, lucrative deal from Phoenix GM Don Maloney. Sources said Turris wanted a three-year deal worth an average of slightly more than $4 million a year, or a two-year deal worth slightly more than $3 million annually.
The question on Maloney’s lips: For what? In 131 NHL games, 128 of which were played over two seasons, Turris had a whopping 19 goals and 27 assists.
Worse yet, Turris burned more than a few bridges in the Coyotes locker room when he intimated that he needed to play with more skill and in a different style to be successful.
That was a slight not only to coach Dave Tippett’s proven system, but to the players in the room, whether you agree the Coyotes had the requisite skill in those days or not.
So with the sides at an acrimonious impasse, Maloney shipped Turris to Ottawa for defenseman David Rundbad and a second-round pick in 2012, which the Coyotes used in a package to acquire Antoine Vermette from Columbus.
How have things worked out for Turris in Ottawa? In 53 games with the Senators, he has 13 goals and 21 assists. He also had six goals and nine points in Ottawa’s 10-game playoff run last year that ended in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. And he got his long-term deal: A five-year, $17.5 million extension that was signed in August 2012.
“I can’t speak to how he played here,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said Tuesday outside Ottawa’s locker room at Jobing.com Arena. “I know that since he came to Ottawa he’s been professional in everything that we’ve asked him to do.
Turris isn’t backing off the notion that Ottawa’s system better suits him than Tippett’s.
“It’s a different style of game,” he said. “I’m very thankful and over the moon happy about having the opportunity to contribute every night consistently.”
So is it the style that has most benefitted Turris? The players around him? Or is it something else?
“He’s three years older than when he was here,” MacLean said. “Which I think makes a significant difference for anybody.
“We’ve given him an opportunity to play more minutes. That, along with his maturity has brought him to where he is now. He’s a very good, dependable player.”
That statement might not sit well with Coyotes fans, however, and Turris knows Glendale isn’t a place where he is likely to hear cheers any time soon.
“I’m sure I’m going to get a similar welcoming back to my last time here (Jan. 24, 2012), which is fine by me. It’s part of pro sports. I didn’t expect welcoming signs back and a pat on the back,” Turris said. “I don’t think the fans quite understand, but it happens. I’ve moved on.”
When asked if, in hindsight, he would have handled his departure any differently than he did, Turris shook his head.
“You can always look back and say this and that you’d do different but I, personally, wouldn’t change a thing. It’s brought me to Ottawa,” he said. “People made different stories about it. People that knew what was going on had a better understanding. I think it was best for both parties involved to kind of go our own ways.”