When Phoenix Coyote fans hear reports of Kyle Turris' "100-watt smile" on the rink Monday during his first practice with the Ottawa Senators it is sure to stir up feelings of jealously similar to that of seeing an ex-spouse happy in a new relationship.
Turris probably won't be receiving any cheers next time he takes the ice at Jobing.com Arena, but Coyote fans may want to think about throwing a few shouts his way. General Manager Don Maloney and the Coyotes front office managed to get very good value for the disgruntled, underachieving center who forced the Coyotes hand in dealing him out of the desert.
Turris, the Coyotes third-round pick in the 2007 draft, never played up to the expectations of such a high pick totaling only 19 goals and 27 assist in 131 games played with the team. The scrutiny has been amplified for Turris due to the two picks ahead of him, Patrick Kane and James van Riemsdyk, meeting in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals and being key pieces to their teams recent success. Kane has developed into one of the NHL's top young stars and even graced the cover of EA Sports video game NHL 10.
"I didn't realize how deep his feelings were," Maloney said after having a conversation over coffee with the 22-year old Turris about his future in a Coyote sweater. Things started to go south when Turris butted heads with head coach Dave Tippett after he took over in 2009, leading to him spending a lot of time in the AHL with the San Antonio Rampage. It looked like Turris had turned the corner in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs when he had a goal and two assist against the Detroit Red Wings; however, Turris burnt up any goodwill he earned with Coyotes fans in playoffs in the offseason.
Turris always seemed to have a sense of entitlement that he had not yet earned in the NHL. This was even more evident after a lengthy contract holdout that ran into the 2011-2012 season. Imagine if a normal person who underperformed at their job and had a negative attitude towards their workplace demanded a raise to their boss. They probably would be laughed out the door or escorted off the premises.
The holdout ended with Turris missing 19 games and not having his demand for a trade or exorbitant amount of money met. A sour taste was left in the mouth of everyone involved and it seemed like only a matter of time before Turris was on the trading block.
Turris played well in his six games this season with the Coyotes despite not tallying a point, but again his ego got in the way. He could not see himself as a third or fourth line center which led to another conflict with coach Tippett. Dec. 17th the Coyotes dealt Turris to the Ottawa Senators for defenseman David Rundblad and a second-round draft pick.
Turris got his wish. He will now be playing in Ottawa, the capital of the hockey infatuated nation of Canada. It is the equivalent of a baseball player being traded to the New York Yankees. Hopefully the change of scenery will be enough for the young center to tap into the potential the Coyotes saw when they drafted him in 2007.
Rundblad has had a rough run so far in his first year in the NHL, but the Swedish defenseman has a huge upside. In 2010-2011 he led all Swedish Elite League defenseman in points with 50 in 55 games. The point total was also the second highest all-time in the SEL.
His offensive ability could be essential in helping out a struggling Coyote power play unit and could potentially take over for struggling veteran Derek Morris, who has been a healthy scratch in two consecutive games. Rundblad is only 21-years-old so his development in the Coyotes system is not something that needs to be rushed.
Rundblad and Turris are two very young players who have many years left ahead of them in the league, so the impact of this trade may not be seen for many years. One thing is for sure, one of the two headaches that has plagued the Coyotes organization this year has been relieved. Now only if getting an owner was so easy.