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Turco did not return to bench after being pulled

Mar 5, 2010, 3:30 PM EDT

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Turco1.jpgIt’s a tough time for the Dallas Stars. They entered the break one point out of a playoff spot, fueled by the incredible play of Marty Turco and some timely secondary scoring. Turco had a 1.15 goals-against average in the six games leading up the Olympics, and somehow found a way to play even better once the Stars traded for Kari Lehtonen. His elevated level of play (well, that combined with a complete lack of trade value) led the Stars to waive Alex Auld and go with Turco for a hopeful playoff run.

Since coming back from the Olympics, he’s been absolutely horrid. There’s no two ways to put it.

To be fair to Turco, the team around him hasn’t been much better. The forwards can’t score, the defense is absent and clueless and there is a noticeable lack of leadership on the team, from the coaches on down. But timely and consistent goaltending can help get a team’s confidence back and Turco, along with the rest of the Stars, has looked like he’s just not interested.

After allowing four goals on eleven shots against the Blues, including two in a span of 17 seconds, Marty Turco was pulled in favor of newly acquired Kari Lehtonen. The fact that the Stars turned to Lehtonen (who certainly looked like he hadn’t played in the NHL in about a year), was a sign of just how poor Turco’s performance had been. Turco wasn’t happy, as he never is with getting pulled, and stayed in the locker room instead of returning to the bench. From the Dallas Morning News:

“It is unusual. We addressed it this morning,” Crawford said. “Nobody likes to be pulled, and especially with all of the other things (Turco participated in an award ceremony before the game that honored him for playing in his 500th NHL game). I don’t think he was trying to do anything, but I think how you do things and how everybody views it, whether it’s our young players, or whether it’s our team in general, we all have to stick together. We’ve addressed it and we’ll go forward. I don’t believe for a minute that he was trying to draw attention from the team. He was probably just upset with his own performance.”

Turco’s attitude has always been a sticky point. He’s been an elite goaltender for the Stars in the past, but he’s nearing the end of his time with this team and it seems as if his desire to perform at a top level has waned. Perhaps it’s just something that comes with being an aging goaltender (he’s 34), but the fact that he can go from playing out of this world to absolutely atrocious shows a lack of concentration or inspiration.

Kari Lehtonen will get the start for the Stars on Saturday against the Penguins; perhaps some time off will get Turco’s heart in the right place again. It worked earlier in the season.

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