Kyle Turris is eager to show the Phoenix Coyotes what type of player they could have had — if only they gave him the chance to play.
Turris makes his first return to Phoenix on Tuesday night, after a long saga that saw him get traded to the Ottawa Senators in December.
While a reduced role under Dave Tippett was thought to be the main catalyst for the trade, Turris did not want to throw stones at his former head coach before Tuesday’s game. But he did make it abundantly clear that he prefers playing under Paul MacLean in Ottawa.
“(Tippet’s) a good coach. He’s had a lot of success and he’s done well with Phoenix and Dallas as well. But it wasn’t the right fit for me for many different reasons. I’m just very happy, excited and thankful to be with coach MacLean here in Ottawa,” Turris said.
Under MacLean, Turris has blossomed into a productive second-line centre. He has collected 13 points in 17 games and played alongside star winger Daniel Alfredsson. He’s played an average of 17:30 per game with the Senators, a drastic increase from the 11:16 he averaged under Tippett in Phoenix last season.
“It’s been amazing, with coach MacLean giving the team and myself confidence, with allowing us to play our game and have fun. Having that confidence makes you a hundred times better hockey player,” explained Turris. “The game and the majority of sports is all about confidence. He has instilled that in me from day one and I can’t thank him enough for that. It’s made me comfortable and allows me to play my game.”
“I’m definitely a lot more comfortable here – having more fun and playing more of my game and knowing how I can play compared to when I was with Phoenix.”
Turris says he’s expecting the home crowd to get on him on Tuesday night, since he basically orchestrated his departure from Phoenix. As a restricted free agent, he refused to re-sign with the Coyotes in the off-season, leading to speculation that he wanted a trade. By late October his agent Kurt Overhardt confirmed that Turris wanted a trade, but Coyotes general manager Don Maloney was unwilling to grant his wish.
Turris eventually signed a two-year, $2.8-million contract at the end of November and was traded to Ottawa a couple of weeks later.
“It’s just going to be another game, but at the same time it’s going to be a bit of a different atmosphere. There might be some boos thrown in there, but that’s something that comes with the expectation of playing in a league like this.”
Turris was a highly-touted draft pick for the Coyotes, who took him with the third overall selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. But over the course of three years, he did not get a chance to show his offensive side, collecting just 19 goals and 27 assists in 137 games with the Coyotes. He admits it will be a bit of a shock to walk into his old arena, wearing Senators colors on Tuesday night.
“It’ll be weird walking into the visiting room and warming up on the other side of the ice and all that. But it’s something I’m looking forward to and something I’m excited to get at. “
“What I’ve learned is that it’s all just a big business. And I think the way (Phoenix) looked at it was it was a business situation as well. I’ll remember my draft day forever, but it’s something where I’m not too emotionally attached with Phoenix anymore.”