The exact scenario was neatly and carefully laid out by the Phoenix Coyotes.
From all indications, the Coyotes had no interest in keeping Kyle Turris in the organization, but they did not want to compromise their ability to acquire quality players in a possible trade.
Slipping quietly in the night, the Coyotes let talks with Turris, his agent and family progress at a snail’s pace.
That brought negotiations up against the NHL-mandated December 1 deadline, from which either Turris signed with Phoenix or had to sit out the rest of the 2011-12 season and—should the Coyotes qualify—the Stanley Cup playoffs.
In addressing the media following trading Turris to Ottawa this past weekend, Phoenix GM Don Maloney indicated had the Coyotes not signed Turris, the organization stood to gain nothing when Turris signed with another team after the current season and playoffs, according to The Washington Post).
Instead, Phoenix acquired defenseman David Rundblat from the Senators along with a second-round draft pick in the 2012 selection. Describing the 21-year-old Rundblat as “a work in progress,” Maloney said the Coyotes acquired an exceptional talent and a star for the future.
For now, Turris is off the Canadian capital with the blessing, but not necessarily the good wishes of Maloney and the Phoenix organization.
Five days after we signed him, Kyle and I met on a Sunday morning at the Ice Den (the Coyotes practice rink in Scottsdale, Ariz.) and had a long discussion, Maloney said. After that meeting, I realized he had deep feelings about playing for us and those feelings would not change. This is a hard game to play when you’re not engaged mentally.
After Turris signed in last November, the Coyotes were about to ship him to Portland of the AHL with the hopes he would work himself into hockey shape. Instead, Turris reported in great physical shape and stepped right into the Phoenix lineup on Dec, 1 at Winnipeg. He had 15 minutes of ice time and worked on the fourth line with Raffi Torres and Patrick O’Sullivan.
Throughout his holdout and after he signed with Phoenix, Turris argued he was better than a fourth-line center and told the Coyotes he was unhappy with that role. Responding, Maloney told Turris he is not better than a third or fourth-line center, and that’s where the Coyotes planned to use him.
An impasse resulted, and the differences became irreconcilable.
After practice on Monday Dec. 12, coach Dave Tippett told Maloney he thought Turris was a liability and a player the Coyotes should consider moving.
Immediately, Maloney began working the phones and said 10 teams expressed more than token interest in Turris. Three teams offered players in a potential trade, and in the end, Maloney accepted the Senators offer.
The plan now for Turris is to center Ottawa’s second line and list just behind Jason Spezza at center in the Senators’ depth chart.
We thought he was a better fit lower in the lineup, and Kyle thought he was a top line center, Maloney said. At the end of the day, it just was not right for us, and I didn’t believe that (Turris) beliefs about the his status here was that deep. We had a time frame and Kyle had a time and this did not add up. In the end, this could not work here, ever.
Following an emotional and disheartening 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers Dec. 17, the Coyotes prepare for an extended exit from the desert.
The Rangers’ Brad Richards scored on a backhander with 0.1 seconds remaining to hand Phoenix its sixth loss in the last nine games.
“Mistakes are piling up,” said coach Dave Tippett. “You’re giving away points like that and it’s not good. But, it is what it is.”
For now, the Coyotes play 10 of their next 13 games on the road, and have home games against the Blues (Dec. 23), the Bruins (Dec. 30) and the Islanders on Jan. 7 in that period.
From Jan. 16 through Feb. 11, they have nine of 11 at home—including six straight through the All-Star break.
EDITORS’S NOTE - Quotes in this were obtained by the author prior and after the New York Rangers at Phoenix game Dec. 17, 2011.