|Senators centre Kyle Turris wants to keep building on the career numbers he posted in 2011-12, his first season in the Ottawa lineup after a December trade with the Coyotes (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images).
Almost from the moment his first season in an Ottawa Senators jersey came to an end, Kyle Turris has been thinking about the next one.
Needless to say, it can't start soon enough for the man who raised the roof at Scotiabank Place in a major way with a game-winning overtime goal in Game 4 of the Senators' first-round playoff series against the New York Rangers.
"I can't wait," Turris said with a grin and an eye toward the 2012-13 season. "From the minute that Game 7 (against the Blueshirts) finished last year ... it was a tough one to take but, at the same time, right away I was excited to start next season and get back at it, so we can carry on our ways and grow."
For the 23-year-old Turris, the December trade that brought him to Ottawa from the Phoenix Coyotes opened a world of new possibilities. In 49 games with the Senators, he produced 12 goals, 17 assists and 29 points — all National Hockey League career highs. Turris believes the best is yet to come, telling ottawasenators.com late last season that he believes he can be a 30-goal scorer someday.
With that thought in mind, the native of New Westminster, B.C., stayed in Ottawa for more than two months after the Senators' season ended in late April, working with conditioning coach Chris Schwarz to build more strength — something he believes he's achieved. After spending some time at home in British Columbia and visiting with his girlfriend's (Julie) family in Minnesota, Turris returned to the capital at the beginning of August to continue preparations for the new season.
"It's been great working with Schwarzy on things we want to get better at over the summer — getting stronger and putting on some weight," Turris, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, said following a skate at the Bell Sensplex. "I feel really good."
That would also sum up the feelings of a team that, after pushing the Eastern Conference champion Rangers to the limit in April, feels poised to achieve even better things in the season to come.
"We're all confident in our abilities as a team," said Turris. "It's a lot of work to jell and combine together as a team over the course of a season. That's why we had so much success over the course of last season and into the playoffs. We're just going to have to do that again this year and everyone's excited to get back at it."
Turris is also looking forward to the prospect of having free-agent acquisition Guillaume Latendresse, who signed with Senators on July 1, on his left wing. The 6-2, 230-pound Latendresse was a 27-goal scorer with the Minnesota Wild and Montreal Canadiens in 2009-10 before running into injury troubles the last two seasons.
"I think it's exciting," Turris said of that possibility. "It's going to be fun. He's a big, skilled player and he's obviously a good player. It's going to be a good addition for us and fun to have him as a part of our team."
The extra time he's spent in Ottawa this summer has also given Turris a chance to immerse himself into life in the capital and he's been a familiar face at community events. It's a city he's truly happy to call his hockey home.
"I love it," said Turris. "I enjoy every minute of it (here). It's fun to go out and support different charities and learn more about them. I really enjoy going to those events and spending time in the city."