Ending nearly four months of acrimony, the Coyotes and Turris agreed on a two-year deal worth $2.8 million on Nov. 22. When negotiations first began, Turris was rumored to ask double for what was eventually settled, and wanted out of Phoenix.
Turris had to sign with Phoenix by Dec. 1 or sit out the rest of the 2011-12 season plus, if the Coyotes qualify, the Stanley Cup playoffs.
For now, Turris is in the fold but because of contractual obligations and the necessity of passing a physical, he is not allowed to speak to the media. Instead, Phoenix general Don Maloney meet reporters with the assertion that the team is happy to have Turris back on the ice, and look forward to a productive relationship.
“Hopefully, this will work out,” Maloney said Nov. 23 prior to the Coyotes home game with Anaheim. “Sometimes, you kiss and make up and other times, it lingers. In this case, things worked out both ways. Kyle looked at this as business decision, and we used the leverage available to us.”
In the Coyotes media guide, Turris is listed at 6'1", 187 pounds, but Maloney said the 22-year-old native of New Westminster, B.C. has constantly worked on strength and conditioning. After meeting with Maloney, media members passed Turris in the corridor and immediately remarked on his increased size.
Pending his physical and necessary paperwork, Turris is expected to meet the media Friday, Nov. 25.
In the meantime, Maloney continued to reinitiate the need to re-sign Turris. At the same time, the Turris transaction is viewed as beneficial to both parties.
“We didn’t take a hard line with Kyle,” Maloney added. “We made only two offers, one in the summer and one in September, and they were the same. We did not alter the offer nor did we make any changes. It’s about setting a standard of how we do things in Phoenix.”
Maloney said the call to accept his offer came November 21 when he huddled with the Phoenix staff in the coaches room prior to a game at Washington. While Maloney made no reference to the looming December 1 barrier for Turris, the deadline appeared to be a factor in completing the deal.
Turris’ speed and increased contributions during the 2011 playoffs showed Maloney and other Phoenix decision-makers the option to retain the center-ice man. At the same time, Maloney discounted the notion had Turris did not sign with Phoenix, as a restrictive free agent and did not play the rest of the season, there could less interest in the open market.
Maloney indicated he received calls from the other 29 NHL teams on Turris’ status. Not that a trade was in the stars, “Teams just wanted to check how things were going,” Maloney added.
Until Turris begins to produce on the ice, his worth to the Coyotes remains an outstanding issue.
“Right now, it’s hard to access the value we will get back,” Maloney said. “Kyle came on strong in the playoffs, and along with younger players like Mikkel Boedker and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, we like our future. We think this is a good deal for Kyle and the right deal.”
For the record, Turris appeared in 65 games last season for Phoenix, scored 11 goals and assisted on 14 others. In the playoffs, he emerged as a dependable two-way player, scored one goal and assisted on two others in four games.
Turris is expected to join the Coyotes for practice this coming weekend, and then report to AHL Portland. Maloney said he expects Turris to play in games for the Pirates before a possible NHL season debut with the Coyotes against Minnesota at home on Dec. 11.
“When he returns, we’ll see where he stands,” said Phoenix coach Dave Tippett. “He’s met with conditioning people and doctors, but the test will come when he goes to Portland. We have to see where he is at when he comes back.”
Opening a 3-Game Home Stand
After gaining six of a possible 10 points on a recently-completed five game Eastern swing, the Coyotes returned for the first of three at home over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The start was encouraging.
Against Anaheim Nov. 23, the Coyotes dominated both ends of the ice, and came away with a convincing 4-2 win before 9,124 at Jobing.com Arena.
“When you come off a tough trip like we had, there’s the fear of not playing well,” Tippett said. “We didn’t want that to happen.”
In a larger sense, the game represented a series of twos.
Forward Radim Vrbata scored twice and that was the fourth time this season the native of Mlada Boleslav, the Czech Republic popped in a pair of goals. Complementing Vrbata was defenseman Keith Yandle, who scored his second of the season and added an assist, and defenseman Ekman-Larrson picked up his fifth of the season and added an assist.
Goaltender Mike Smith turned aside 19-of-21 shots to record his 10th win of the season. With the Coyotes leading 2-1 in the deep into the second period, Smith stopped Corey Perry on a short-handed breakaway and the Coyotes followed with Vrbata’s second of the game on a backhander at 17:31 to create a 3-1 lead after two periods.
“There are times in a game where one save becomes very important,” Smith said of stopping Perry. “Overall, I didn’t play as well as I should and the team was unbelievable. We showed great character and took the wind out of (the Ducks) sails.”
Then, the Coyotes are back on the road for five of their next six games in Chicago, Winnipeg, back to Chicago, Nashville and Detroit. The only home game in between is a date in the desert with the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 3.
All quotes in this story were obtained by the author before and after the Anaheim at Phoenix game, Nov. 23, 2011.