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Catching Up With Kyle Turris

OTTAWA, ON - MAY 6: Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates a third period game tying goal scored by teammate Derick Brassard #19 against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on May 6, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

In August of 2022, after 14 seasons in the NHL, Kyle Turris retired as an NHL player. Turris scored 425 points in 776 games, with over half of them playing for Ottawa, where he remains one of the most well-liked players in franchise history. Turris’s NHL journey also took him to Edmonton, Nashville, and the team that drafted him third overall in 2007, the Phoenix Coyotes.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 15: Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates after scoring a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at Wells Fargo Center on November 15, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

 

But if your idea of retirement is slowing down, putting your feet up, and relaxing, you may not appreciate or even recognize Turris’s version.

Because now that his NHL playing career is over, Turris is busier than ever.

The 34-year-old and his wife, Julie, are raising three young children; they’re building their forever home in Vancouver; he’s coaching two minor hockey teams; he’s gone back to university; and he’s got a new job as an intern for the Vancouver Canucks.

So I was appreciative – and a little impressed – that he was able to carve out some time to join me from his home in North Vancouver. As Turris jumps on an early Sunday morning Zoom call, he’s just in the door from hockey practice, still munching on breakfast cereal, with three adorable little blonde-haired people peeking over his shoulder to see who Dad is talking to on the laptop. Turris gives them their marching orders.

“Okay, guys. Either go put on a movie downstairs or put on a show over in that room. And we’re going to be quiet, right?” Turris instructed. “Whoever is loud is going to go up and take a nap.”

As his sons, Beckett and Cooper, ages nine and six, and his seven-year-old daughter, Teddie, hustle off to enjoy some cartoons, it’s easy to see that, while they miss Ottawa dearly, the Turris family is happy out west.

“The kids are adapting really well, all going to the same school,” Turris said. “Julie loves the mountains and the ocean, and she’s making some good friends. We’re really enjoying the West Coast here in Vancouver and being close to family, and we’re currently building our forever home in Vancouver.”

But we’re only scratching the surface of the Kyle Turris life update. He’s also finishing his business degree at the University of Wisconsin, where he met Julie and played NCAA hockey for a year.

Turris hopes the business degree, which he’ll get later this year, combined with his impressive hockey background, will give him a unique skill set to offer an organization in the hockey world. And he’s already getting hands-on experience in that world. In November, he accepted an internship with the Vancouver Canucks.

“I’ve been in the Canucks’ business intelligence division, and I’m about to go into corporate partnerships,” Turris said. “I rotate through the different divisions to gain experience on the business side of an organization to better understand that. And just being in a work and office atmosphere is helpful too because I haven’t done that either.” Turris doesn’t know where this will lead yet but hasn’t ruled anything out. I asked him if he might like to be an NHL general manager someday.

“Yeah, I’m not sure about the exact position, but I would like to pursue a position in the hockey world that is more than strictly hockey,” Turris said. “I feel like gaining this experience will be very valuable to me in the future, and pursuing something along that line. So, I’m very grateful to the Canucks for giving me this opportunity.”

Almost seven years ago, Turris got a good taste of how tough the business side of the game can be. His young family was happy and active in Ottawa, making a real connection to the community. He was just a few months removed from helping the Senators get to the Conference Final. But Turris was also 28, about to become an unrestricted free agent, and worked for a notoriously frugal owner Eugene Melnyk.

So Turris was traded to Nashville that November in a blockbuster three-way deal that brought Matt Duchene to Ottawa. While many factors were at play beyond the trade, the Senators immediately plummeted in the standings, finished that season 30th place overall, and decided to begin a tear-things-down-to-the-studs rebuild.

Turris is glad to see that the Senators appear to be heading back in the right direction again. I asked him what he thought of the significant changes in Ottawa this year.

OTTAWA, ON – MAY 6: The first star of the game Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators tosses a puck over the glass for a fan following their overtime win against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on May 6, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

“I think the excitement behind (new owner) Michael Andlauer is warranted,” Turris said. “I think he’s going to do a great job. And I think the team and the organization deserve somebody like Michael to come in and establish that consistency – that message that we’re all one, we’re all a community, and working towards the same goal.”

It was like that in Ottawa in the spring of 2017. Turris vividly remembers the Senators playoff run that year, calling it the highlight of his career. He recalls how it brought the city and the team together and energized the players on the ice.

“It’s great to have somebody like Michael Andlauer be able to come in and reestablish that. Because I feel like in between, it got ugly. You saw the polar opposite of how a team brings everybody in a community together. You saw how ownership can divide as well. When we came back in the summers to Ottawa, we could feel the division between the organization and people within the community.

“And Ottawa is such a good place, and the people in Ottawa are great. The organization’s full of those phenomenal people. So, seeing an owner like Michael come in and establish that unified vision and work to accomplish it is very exciting. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Turris’s retirement from playing came a few years earlier than he expected. A couple of years after his trade from Ottawa to Nashville, a back problem he’d managed to keep in check throughout his career slowly began flaring up. It became a major problem during his final two years in Edmonton.

OTTAWA, ON – OCTOBER 7: Kyle Turris of the Ottawa Senators signs an autograph on the red carpet prior to the start of a game against the Detroit Red Wings at Canadian Tire Centre on October 7, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

“That’s an aspect of my tenure in Phoenix that I don’t think anybody really knows,” Turris said. “In my rookie year, at the end of the season, I ended up having back surgery. So, I played about three-quarters of my rookie year with a herniated disc and shooting pain down my leg. It was a difficult, challenging year from a health perspective, and I ended up having back surgery at the end of the season. And that was a thing that I had to be focused on for the rest of my career, maintaining my health and my back health to prolong my career.”

The back issue played a significant factor in ending Turris’s career in 2022.

But he sure had some wonderful hockey moments along the way. Turris had three classic overtime winners for Ottawa in the Stanley Cup playoffs – two against the New York Rangers in 2012 and 2017 and one against the rival Montreal Canadiens in 2013. He also won gold for Canada at the 2008 World Junior Hockey Championships, leading the good guys in scoring.

“I feel like most kids in Canada, you grow up watching the tournament at Christmas,” Turris said. “And you’re idolizing the players on Team Canada and dreaming of one day participating and representing your country on that stage. So, actually realizing that dream and getting to experience it was one of the highlights of my career.

“And you create friendships that last. I was on a line with Claude Giroux and Brad Marchand, and there’s always that bond now. I hated playing against Marchand in Boston, but after the game, we’d catch up and see how things were going. And that success we had, winning the gold medal and the team we had, it was a special group and something I’ll always remember.”

But right up there with his long list of hockey memories is the time he and Julie have been able to spend with people in Ottawa. From friends to community groups, including the Capital City Condors, Kyle and Julie always make time for a visit to the capital every year.

“Yeah, Julie is constantly echoing how much we miss being back in the hood in Westboro and all of our friends there,” Turris said. “Just the community, the people, the Sens, and everything about it. It’s so near and dear to our hearts. We’re loving our experience out here and what it has to offer, but there’s just that missing piece that Ottawa has filled in our heart.”

For the record, during this interview, none of the Turris kids had to be exiled upstairs for a nap. They were good, just like their Dad.

OTTAWA, ON – MAY 6: Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates a third period game tying goal scored by teammate Derick Brassard #19 against the New York Rangers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on May 6, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

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