It seems that both sides got exactly what they wanted when three-time All-Star Marty Turco signed a one-year deal with the Blackhawks Monday. For Turco, the chance to play behind a skilled defensive core for a contender was too good to pass up. The Blackhawks, in turn, managed to bring in an experienced backstop while staying within their salary cap-imposed limitations.
As GM Stan Bowman so succinctly put it: “This is a very good opportunity for Marty and the Blackhawks.”
A 10-year NHL veteran, Turco has seen the ups and the downs of life in the NHL during his career. When the Stanley Cup champions asked him to come aboard to help defend their crown, he had to jump on it.
“I have been around some good teams, and the last few years of not making the playoffs cemented my belief in how I work and what makes me tick, and that's to have an opportunity to win,” he said on a conference call Monday morning. “That's what the Chicago Blackhawks, from top to bottom, are all about.”
The opportunity to play in Chicago was so appealing, Turco said, that he turned down more money and a longer contract from other teams to don the Indian Head sweater. Even more enticing was the ability to mind the same crease as Hall of Famer Tony Esposito, who grew up in Turco’s hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
“It’s a dream come true to play for an Original Six team, especially one that has Tony's number in the rafters,” said Turco. “Before the playoffs ever started last season, this is a team I looked at, knowing I would be a free agent, as a place I wanted to go. It certainly is an amazing day for me to become a Blackhawk.”
Bowman said that Turco was always on his radar and the goalie’s style of play will complement the Blackhawks’ puck-possession game.
“I have said for a long time that the strength of our team has been the defense; our top-four defensemen are very mobile and able to get the puck to our forwards quickly,” he said. “Marty is great at stopping the puck, but in addition he’s probably the best puck-handling goaltender in the league. I’m looking forward to seeing our defensemen get the benefit of having the puck just a couple seconds quicker than they had it in the past. That’s a huge advantage to us.”
An added bonus is the experience that Turco brings to the locker room, which Bowman hopes will have an impact on Corey Crawford
, who will likely start 2010-11 as the team’s backup goalie.
“We think Corey has really learned his trade so far, but he’s been in the minors. He hasn’t really had a mentor like Marty,” Bowman said. “What a guy to learn from.”
Though he waited more than a month to sign a contract, Turco said that signing with the Blackhawks made the waiting worthwhile.
“We had offers from other teams that didn’t catch my eye when I knew there was a chance to be part of this great organization,” he said. “Waiting, especially looking at it from today, doesn’t seem that difficult. I had trust in myself and my ability. It’s all been well worth it.”