If you’re an Ottawa Senators fan, leadership is the buzzword of the off-season.
That’s why it would be wise to watch the world hockey championship quite closely.
Senators’ centre Kyle Turris was chosen as an alternate captain for Team Canada, with Vancouver Canucks’ defenceman Kevin Bieksa being named captain and Jason Chimera of the Washington Capitals named the other alternate captain.
Whether Jason Spezza is traded before the season or not, it’s a sure bet Turris will be the Senators’ top centre moving forward. He's also signed until the end of the 2017-18 season.
The world championships are a litmus test for the native of New Westminster, B.C., who was quite impressive as a teenager wearing Canada’s jersey. He led Canada in goals at the 2007 Super Series between Canada and Russia, plus he led Canada in points as they won the gold medal in the 2008 World Junior Championships.
Turris a 'good teammate', coach says
This is his first international men’s tournament, though, so what makes Turris a leader for this version of Team Canada?
The coach said Bieksa, who is playing in his first world championship, was chosen because of his outgoing personality and his on-ice passion. Chimera was chosen because of his experience, which includes world championships in 2007 and 2008.
For Turris, his role as a “good teammate” earned him the letter from Dave Tippett.
That explanation was quite vague, but intriguing if you consider Turris and Tippett had a rough break-up two and a half years ago.
Turris, a third overall pick of the Coyotes in 2007, played 117 games for Phoenix over four different seasons, with a full year in the American Hockey League mixed in.
Turris, Tippett never saw eye to eye
But Turris never reached his potential in Arizona, and his role in the NHL sparked his holdout when he just turned 22.
Turris was penned as selfish, demanding and bad for the Coyotes’ locker room before he was shipped to the Ottawa Senators in December 2011 in exchange for David Rundblad and a draft pick.
Tippett was the coach when Turris became agitated with his playing time and requested a trade. He also sent Turris down for a full season in the AHL in his first year as the Coyotes’ coach.
Tippett now applauds Turris for his role in the locker room and trusts him as Team Canada's first-line centre, with Alex Burrows and 18-year-old Nathan MacKinnon on his wings. It shows how far the player has come.
At 24, Turris is also married with a child on the way. On the ice, he’s improved his game at the defensive end and he leads by example.
Tippett’s opinion of the younger Turris wasn’t personal. As a coach, Tippett preaches defence first and Turris hadn’t picked up the skills and work ethic necessary to play good defence.
It took a little longer for Turris to find his way and this honour as alternate captain, with his former coach granting it, is a sign Turris has become the player the Coyotes envisioned when they gambled on him so high in the draft.
It’s also a sign Turris is ready to take another step forward in his NHL career and become a leader in Ottawa.
Team Canada's world championship schedule
- May 9 vs. France: 9:45 a.m. ET.
- May 10 vs. Slovakia: 1:45 p.m. ET.
- May 12 vs. Czech Republic: 1:45 p.m. ET.
- May 15 vs. Denmark: 9:45 a.m. ET.
- May 16 vs. Italy: 9:45 a.m. ET.
- May 18 vs. Sweden: 9:45 a.m. ET.
- May 20 vs. Norway: 5:45 a.m. ET.
- May 22: Quarter-finals.
- May 24: Semi-finals.
- May 25: Bronze and Gold medal games.