– The ice-level hallways of Jobing.com Arena were packed with more than 50 Coyotes players Friday -- hopefuls and prospects going through physicals, mugging for pictures and filling out forms on the official opening day of training camp.
Center Kyle Turris
, still embroiled in a contract stalemate with the team, was missing from the crowd, however. And it sounds like the Coyotes aren't expecting him to appear anytime soon.
Turris, the highest Coyote draft pick since the team moved to Phoenix (No. 3 in 2007), made $800,000 in the final year of his entry-level contract this past season – one in which he potted 11 of his 19 career NHL goals and appeared to be taking steps toward being the player who was projected to be an offensive force in the League.
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Turris declined comment Friday. His agent, Kurt Overhardt, declined to discuss negotiations with Phoenix, other than to say published reports that Turris is looking for between $3-4 million a season – for either two or three years -- is "a lot of misinformation, which is disappointing."
Coyotes GM Don Maloney
also declined to discuss figures, but did confirm that the gap between the two sides is so cavernous, discussions aren't even taking place.
"Kyle is not here and we are proceeding without him," Maloney said. "I don't anticipate any conversations at this point … we're so dramatically different in our positions at this point.
"Everyone has their own contract arguments and issues. Last year, (center) Marty Hanzal came down to a signing at the last minute. But we were always in the same country, let alone neighborhood. It was just a matter of a few dollars here and there. (Turris' position) is just so illogical, from our standpoint. The position he's taken makes absolutely no sense to me. We're going to proceed and, hopefully, at some point, they re-evaluate their stance and realize there is a process to get the kind of number that he's looking for."
Maloney reached a similar impasse with star goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
during the summer, and eventually traded the impending free agent to Philadelphia. But Turris is a restricted free agent and Maloney said he won't go that route this time.
"We have no intention of trading him, whatsoever," Maloney said. "We think he's a young, talented player but he's still developing. Once you are a proven 30- (to) 40-goal, 80-point guy yes, you can get the brass ring … but that's what makes America great, he doesn't have to settle (for less). He can stay at home and watch ‘Oprah.'
"We're open-minded we'd like to have Kyle back. We wish he was here today. But we're going to move forward and not going to think about him again until some point before I'm a hundred."
Maloney admits the Coyotes were deficient at center last season and then lost pivots Eric Belanger
and Vernon Fiddler
to free agency. But with the additions of Daymond Langkow
and Boyd Gordon
and 2011 Hobey Baker Award winner Andy Miele
to join Hanzal -- along with several other centers with NHL experience in camp -- Maloney said the team can move forward without Turris if the sides remain at odds.
has been terrific in the rookie games and we're really excited to see him with the NHL players," Maloney said. "We've signed Kyle Chipchura
and (Marc-Andre) Pouliot, who have NHL experience, Ethan Werek
's had a great rookie camp. As far as I'm concerned, we're in good shape at the center position."
was absent from the first day of Coyotes training camp, and it doesn't appear the team expects him there any time soon. (Getty Images)
Turris, who had 11 goals and 25 points in 65 games last season, has had a difficult relationship with demanding coach Dave Tippett
for the past two years. He spent the 2009-10 season in the American Hockey League and struggled to earn steady ice time much of last year.
But he began to blossom at the end of the season at both ends of the ice and was one of Phoenix's better players in a one-sided playoff sweep at the hands of Detroit. Paired with more skilled linemates, he showed the kind of creative offensive ability that the Coyotes have craved in the middle.
"I think he's a player that's ready to take the next step and not being in camp is going to put him back again," Tippett said. "I really think there is some good upside to this player and it's disappointing he's not here.
"There has been growth in his game. He missed some (development) steps coming up but he's getting to the point where he has the ability to be a good NHL player. Things like this, not being in camp, maybe not starting the season, I don't think that will help the development."
Maloney said the Coyotes are willing to pay for results, pointing to the five-year, $26.2 million deal paid to defenseman Keith Yandle
this summer. But that was a reward for what has been accomplished, not a wager on what is to come.
"Kyle believes in himself and that's his strength," Maloney said. "He believes he's a good player in this League and would like more of an opportunity to show it. But we're not a developing team. We're here to win and to win now."