The LA Kings have added a much needed offensive spark during the off-season, but not in the way most people would think.
On July 10, Pierre Turgeon was named assistant coach to the Kings, where he will serve strictly as an offensive coordinator. Turgeon joins newcomers Dave Lowry and Don Nachbaur, who, alongside veteran goaltending coach Bill Ranford, round out the new coaching staff under John Stevens.
A 20-year veteran of the NHL and a first round draft pick by the Buffalo Sabres in 1987, Turgeon is entering his first year of NHL coaching.
With 515 goals and 1,327 points in 1,294 NHL games - not including playoffs - Turgeon seems like a prime selection to coordinate a Kings offense that has struggled over the last few seasons.
A native of Quebec, Turgeon and his wife, Elisabeth, have three children and have resided in Denver, Colorado since 2005. Currently, their oldest daughter is a social worker, their son plays for the Grand Rapids Griffins, and their youngest daughter - 'the brains of the family,' according to Dad - is playing hockey at Harvard.
Now being empty nesters, the opportunity with the Kings couldn't have come at a better time, and it couldn't be passed up.
"I'm looking forward to all this right now, I'm looking forward to the season starting, and moving forward," says an eager Turgeon, who had coached his kids in hockey since his retirement from the NHL in 2007. "I'm glad I'm here so I can focus on hockey."
Turgeon visited Los Angeles in early July for the Kings Rookie Camp, where he met Nachbaur and Lowry. Since then, he has been working with Nachbaur on the power play, coming up with new ideas to implement.
With Elisabeth joining him after the team returns from the two exhibition games in China, the couple has found a place in Manhattan Beach to rent for the season. This suits Turgeon well as he loves the beach, the area's restaurants, and, as an avid biker, is looking forward to taking his road bike for a workout on the strand - a sufficient second option considering his love for skiing will suffer in his new environment.
Aside from a good bike ride, Turgeon enjoys reading and listening to audio books, self-help books mostly, as he constantly strives to work on himself and become a better person. He strongly recommends 'The Untethered Soul' by Michael A. Singer, and 'The Seat of the Soul' from Gary Zukov, for anyone looking for their next good read.
As much of a book worm as he may be, Turgeon does love his share of pop culture.
Reality television shows 'Big Brother' and 'The Bachelor' are favorites of the entire Turgeon family, as they typically gather to watch in their home movie theater. Turgeon enjoys Popular and Country music, citing a Garth Brooks concert at the Forum in Inglewood as the best concert he's ever attended.
"He really connects with the crowd, talks and shares, and you can see everything he sings comes from his soul," Turgeon says about the two-time Grammy Award winner.
In his new city, Turgeon is looking forward to hiking, wine tasting, and finding new Italian restaurants to sample his favorite cuisine.
Coaching hockey at the beach in sunny Southern California is a far cry from Turgeon's roots in Rouyn, Quebec, where he grew up the son of a lumberjack and a housekeeper - both of whom knew nothing about hockey. Pierre maintains that his father is the most inspirational person in his life: "I love his soul, he's just a good man."
Turgeon's older brother asked their dad to play hockey one day, and it was easy enough for Pierre to follow in Sylvain's footsteps, hand-me-down equipment and all. The younger Turgeon son began skating at the age of three, and by age five was playing on a team, and both had successful NHL careers.
"We had winter for eight or nine months of the year, so if you wanted to find ice, you opened your front door, and you go outside and play hockey," recalls the 48-year old former NHL center.
As a boy, Turgeon idolized players like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Guy Lafleur, and Jean Beliveau. Both Beliveau and Turgeon had the honor of captaining the Montreal Canadiens.
"I didn't see him play much, but I loved the person he was. He was one of those guys who could walk in a room and he didn't have to say anything, but he had his presence," Turgeon declares about Beliveau, whom he had the pleasure of having lunch and sharing stories with, before Turgeon's tour as the Canadiens' captain.
As a youngster, hockey wasn't the only sport Turgeon excelled in.
During the few months of the year the weather permitted, Turgeon played baseball, represented Canada in the Little League World Series, and coincidentally that team had their 35-year anniversary earlier this summer, where many of the players were able to reconnect. That experience was quite memorable for Turgeon, and understandably so.
"I remember one of the games in the semifinal we played against Taiwan, and we lost. There were 25 to 30 thousand people watching the game and we were 11 years old. Think about that. It was incredible," reminisces Turgeon.
Turgeon's warm smile, along with his friendly, approachable, good-natured personality will be a welcome addition, not only to the coaching staff, but an increasingly younger Kings roster, and the fan base enthusiastic about getting to know the agents of change at the helm of their favorite team.
For Pierre, improving himself isn't the only thing he's working on - improving the Kings' offense is his new focus.
If his previous accomplishments are any indication, he'll enjoy success with the Kings and be able honor the mantra he lives by: "live in the moment."