GLENDALE, Ariz. — Kyle Turris’s trip down memory lane here Tuesday included reminders of his first National Hockey League game, his first NHL goal and his first NHL playoff game.
However, there were no “Welcome Back, Kyle” signs to go along with those feelings.
“That’s fine by me,” Turris said before the game between the Ottawa Senators and the Phoenix Coyotes, his previous employers. “It’s pro sports. I don’t think the fans quite understand, but it happens and I’ve moved on.”
In 2007, the Coyotes drafted Turris third overall behind Patrick Kane and James van Riemsdyk, but he could never grab a foothold or consistent ice time in Phoenix. At first, he bounced back and forth between the NHL and the minors, and then he battled to get more than third- or fourth-line minutes under Coyotes coach Dave Tippett.
After his three-year entry-level contract expired, Turris stayed away in what became a drawn-out, often ugly public feud between his agent and Coyotes general manager Don Maloney. Turris eventually signed a new deal in November, 2011, but only two weeks later was dealt to the Senators in exchange for defenceman David Rundblad.
Turris chose not to elaborate Tuesday on his issues with Tippett and Maloney, saying only that he was “over the moon happy” with the Senators and suggested he was better suited as a player for the Senators’ style.
Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean acknowledged that the Coyotes played a different system than the Senators, but he also expressed a belief that Turris would have eventually been successful if he had stayed in Phoenix.
“When you’re a good player, you can play in any system,” MacLean said. “If Kyle had stayed here, matured here, three years later, he would probably still be a very good player on their team. If you’re a good player in one place, you’re usually a good player everywhere else, too.”
LONG ROAD HOME
The Senators’ 10-day trip west will officially come to an end with a five-hour flight back from Phoenix on Wednesday, leading into Thursday’s home opener against the New Jersey Devils.
Some will experience a longer flight than others, wondering if general manager Bryan Murray will make a roster change or two, perhaps flip-flopping players to and from Binghamton of the American Hockey League.
Among those wondering what’s next will be centre Stéphane Da Costa, who was a healthy scratch against Phoenix, replaced by Matt Kassian. Defenceman Eric Gryba also returned to the lineup, with Joe Corvo sitting out.
MacLean, cautioned, however, about reading too much into those moves.
“There are no messages being sent with either thing we’re doing,” he said before the game. “We’re just making sure we use our whole lineup and dress the team that we feel gives us the best chance to win. And that (Tuesday) is with Matt and Eric in the lineup. On Thursday, when we go home, it might be different.”
MacLean said Gryba began the regular season a step behind others because of his limited training camp. Because of an injury, Gryba played only one pre-season game.