Maybe it’s destiny that Marty Turco end up with the Chicago Blackhawks.
It’s not exactly SOP for a Stanley Cup champion to move their clutch goaltender before they’ve even popped the last champagne cork. They were still sweepin’ up parade confetti off State Street when playoff hero Antti Niemi was dealt to San Jose.
It was under the tutelage of former Blackhawks’ great Ed Belfour where Turco cut his NHL teeth when Marty played back-up to Belfour in his first two seasons with Dallas (2000-02).
Every hockey fan knows about Chicago’s off-season belt-tightening. It led to, among others, the departures of Niemi and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. Availability of 10-year veteran Turco and his cap-friendly freight made the battle-tested rookie expendable.
The season is still young but it’s looking like Marty Turco and his spiffy, barn red knee-guards may’ve found a home in the Windy City.
Turco’s win / loss record is encouraging. After Sundays action it stands at 7-4-1 (Corey Crawford 1-4). His performance in Saturdays OT shootout against Atlanta was stellar.
But while his SV% matches a career mark (.911), GAA is edging upward (2.79 (2.31)).
As a newcomer, Turco’s still getting his skates underneath himself, his ice-legs, so to speak. It takes time to develop rapport with new co-workers and learn their tendencies.
Like Niemi, Marty’s still adjusting to his new surroundings at work and at home. Players with 1-year deals usually travel alone, leaving wife & kids behind. That’s gotta’ be rough.
No goaltenders performance happens in a vacuum. When the offense is spending precious little time in their opponents end it makes a defenders job that much harder.
While Patrick Sharp is off to a fast start, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are still trying to find their rhythm. Complicating matters has been the recent absence of veteran Marian Hossa with a shoulder injury. The star winger had been off to one of the best starts of his career.
Ahhh…the burdens of winning the Cup. Everyone from Muscovites to Minnetonkans want to see the champion Blackhawks and the coolest uniforms in sport. A grueling early schedule on the heels of a summer-long celebration takes its toll on the hardiest of men.
But the snow’s barely on the pumpkin in northern Illinois. In time, the Cup after-glow will fade and Joel Quenneville will have his players full attention. Young stars Toews and Kane will start finding the back of the net and more consistent defense will follow.
What to watch: Filling the big skates of Dustin Byfuglien is a key for Chicago’s return to the Finals in 2011. Byfuglien was a force in front of the Blackhawks’ net last season, cleaning-up pesky opponents like a big Hoover vacuum. The massive hit he laid on Flyers’ nemesis Chris Pronger in Game 5 of the Finals may‘ve been its turning point. Marty Turco & Company can only hope a new savvy enforcer soon emerges.
Keys to Sport
About the Author
Written by Steven Keys
A native of the old Northwest Territory (IL), my wife and I have lived in four Midwestern states and Arizona. Today we live in Duluth, Georgia. I have a history / legal background.