Kyle Turris was all over the ice Tuesday at the Carleton Ice House.
He picked corners effortlessly, batted pucks out of mid-air, and at times skated circles around his opponents – a mix of Carleton Ravens and fellow locked-out NHLers.
Although he’s only been skating with the Ravens for a few weeks – unlike a few of his teammates who have been there since mid-November – Turris is already fitting right in.
It’s almost as if he’s been there before.
The New Westminster, B.C. native spent one season with the Wisconsin Badgers of the National Collegiate Athletic Association before turning pro and signing with the Phoenix Coyotes in 2008.
“It definitely reminds me of practices back at the Kohl Center,” said the Ottawa Senators forward. “It’s been really fun skating with the guys. The guys are talking about school and their final exams for the semester so it’s a neat atmosphere.”
Turris is four years removed from Wisconsin, but he still remembers it fondly. He recorded a team-high 35 points in 36 games – an impressive stat line for a freshman.
But being a varsity athlete isn’t easy, whether it’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport or the NCAA, even if you’re a highly-touted NHL draft pick.
Exam season is always a challenge, Turris said, but it’s not the only one.
“There’s a lot of pressure off the ice as well as on the ice,” he said. “You forget to take care of your body, you get run down, and you get sick. It’s tough.”
It was all worth it, though, because Turris figured the hard work he put in at Wisconsin would eventually pay off in the NHL. After a rough start to his professional career in Phoenix, which eventually led to him requesting a trade, it finally started to do that last season with the Senators.
Turris put up 29 points in 49 games with the Senators and scored the overtime winner against the top-seeded New York Rangers in game four of the first round of the playoffs – a “moment [he] won’t forget.”
“I’m ecstatic about being here in Ottawa,” he said. “Everybody in the organization are great people, the fans are awesome, and the city itself is a great city. My fiancée and I really enjoy it.”
But for the second year in a row, Turris has been unable to start the NHL season on time. Last year, it was due to his contract situation with the Coyotes – this year, the lockout.
“It’s tough,” he said. “I just want to play hockey.”
That’s why he ventured to Northern Finland in October to play with Karpat Oulu of Finland’s top professional league, the SM-Liiga.
Although his negative comments about the experience in a recent Globe and Mail article have become the subject of controversy, Turris hasn’t closed the door on returning there if the season is canceled.
“I’m going to keep in touch with the GM over there, Harry,” he said. “It was a great experience. I really enjoyed it so I’m definitely going to keep that open.”
For now, Turris said he’s hopeful the NHL season can be saved, but he’s fully behind the NHLPA’s efforts to get what he called a “fair deal.”
“I know that the players want a season,” he said. “We’re working on it and trying everything we can to make sure that happens. But we have to have a willing partner to make that happen.”
Here’s Turris’ statement in response to the previously mentioned Globe and Mail article:
“I read an article in the Globe and Mail today regarding my experience in Oulu. It made me extremely upset that it was so negative, and that it had very inaccurate and untrue information. I really enjoyed my time in Oulu, and those who are around me know that. I want to make clear that the sole reason I left is because of personal reasons that required me to be home with my family. The entire Oulu organization treated me very well, and I feel terrible that people may now feel that I was not grateful to be a part of the organization. I know that I was very lucky to play for such an awesome organization that welcomed me with open arms and treated us very well. Everyone I met in Finland, the coaches, management, fans and people of Oulu were all very nice and made my time there a memorable one. I was also lucky to have great teammates, with whom I have made good friendships. For all this I am very thankful and wish the Karpat organization great success in the future.”
— source: http://www.oulunkarpat.fi/