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Heritage Notebook: Turris returns to BC Place

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Heritage Notebook: Turris returns to BC Place
Ottawa's Kyle Turris will be trying to score goals instead of touchdowns Sunday at BC Place in the 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic.

VANCOUVER -- The last time Ottawa Senators center Kyle Turris was on the field at BC Place, he was wearing cleats instead of skates and trying to pass a football instead of shoot a puck.

Turris was a quarterback at St. Thomas More Collegiate, a Catholic high school in suburban Vancouver, and played in the annual British Columbia high school football provincial championships, which are held at BC Place.

He'll be trying to score goals instead of touchdowns there Sunday when he takes the ice for the Senators against the Vancouver Canucks in the 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic (4 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"I played in one in Grade 8 and watched my buddies play in Grades 9, 10, 11, 12," Turris said Saturday. "Football was fun but in Grade 8 I was 4-foot-11 and couldn't see over my [offensive] line, so I was just throwing it up in the air and praying that somebody would catch it."

Turris said his football dreams died when he broke his wrist trying out for the Grade 10 team.

"I was a quarterback and I couldn't throw, so that's when I packed it in and focused more on hockey," Turris said.

Eight years later, the Senators are glad he did. He's second on the team with 19 goals and fourth with 44 points in 60 games.

"It was neat, obviously before it was renovated, but it was really cool, a great experience and something I still remember," Turris said.

Learning experience for Tortorella -- Canucks coach John Tortorella is one of the few members of the team with outdoor experience in the NHL. He coached the New York Rangers against the Philadelphia Flyers at the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

The one thing he said he learned from that game is that his players should be allowed to embrace the fun environment. That's what he told his Rangers, and they went on to beat the Flyers 3-2. He hopes that element of fun will help his Canucks rediscover their offensive touch. The Canucks have scored 12 goals during a 1-7-1 slump and are 26th in the NHL with 2.34 goals per game.

"When you talk about a team that's struggling offensively, sometimes when you get into an outdoor situation you feel like it's back when you were playing pond hockey," Tortorella said. "I think some of our guys need to offensively allow themselves to play some shinny hockey.

"Just let them play. Maybe this will help us. I don't know. But you can't help but enjoy it when you're in a type of situation like this, and I want them to. Maybe it will loosen them up."

MacArthur happy for second chance outside -- Two days before the Buffalo Sabres hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins at Ralph Wilson Stadium in the inaugural Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2008, then-Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur was sent to the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Rochester.

Sitting out that historic game stung. But MacArthur is getting another chance to play in a stadium game six years later as his current team, the Ottawa Senators, will face the Canucks on Sunday at BC Place.

"It's not a great story to tell. I wanted to be there for [the 2008 Winter Classic]," MacArthur said. "But I'm here now and I get to play in it [Sunday]. It will be fun."

A 22-year-old rookie at the time, MacArthur thought he would get to be part of history, but with forward Maxim Afinogenov returning from an injury, MacArthur was sent to the AHL to open roster space. It ended up being a short trip.

"Right after the game I was called up because [Afinogenov] was hurt again." MacArthur said. "It would have been cool. It would have been nice to see the warm-up and still be a part of it. It didn't happen that way. I ended up watching on TV. It was pretty cool, with the snow. I was close."

MacArthur is enjoying a strong season in Ottawa with 18 goals and 42 points in 52 games. He said he was excited the moment he first heard the Senators would be participating in the big game in Vancouver. One day before taking to the ice at BC Place, he couldn't help but think about sitting out that seminal stadium game in Buffalo.

"I guess everything happens for a reason and I'm going to get a chance now," he said. "I'm pretty happy about it."

Booth skated way into fiancé's heart -- Vancouver Canucks forward David Booth never hesitated to bring his fiancé onto the ice at BC Place for a family skate Saturday.

Ashley Durham may be a former Miss Tennessee, but Booth already knew she was comfortable on skates.

"The very first date I took her on was to the old arena where I grew up," said Booth, adding he used a connection with the arena manager to ensure they had the ice to themselves. "I asked them, 'Hey can I borrow the rink? I am trying to impress a girl.'"

It must have worked. Booth took Durham to the rink for "a couple of laps" after dinner in late August and proposed to her during the break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics on a trip to Booth's hometown of Washington, Mich.

He popped the question during a snowshoeing trip.

"She's never been in the snow, so we went snowshoeing in my hometown and built a snowman and I proposed," Booth said.

The pair had fun Saturday skating around the ice at BC Place.

"That was pretty cool," he said of skating in the football stadium with the retractable roof opened. "That's the thing that's been kind of cool about our relationship. Every day it gets better and better."

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