Turgeon to Denver: ‘I’m not Peter Forsberg’
DENVER ” Pierre Turgeon wants to make one thing perfectly clear.
“I’m not Peter Forsberg, that we know,” the 36-year-old veteran said as the Colorado Avalanche opened training camp this week.
You can’t blame Avalanche fans, though, for comparing Turgeon to their beloved Forsberg, who helped Colorado win two Stanley Cups and played his entire career with the organization before signing a two-year, $11.5 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Turgeon signed a deal with Colorado on Aug. 3 that will pay him $1.5 million next season ” the same amount Forsberg turned down and on the same day he moved to Philadelphia. Turgeon also will play Forsberg’s center position.
Even Avalanche general manager Pierre Lacroix made the comparison at the time, saying “Pierre Turgeon has all the skills to fill holes created by Peter Forsberg.”
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Not so fast. Turgeon dismisses any such parallels to Forsberg, though quickly added that he has his own skills to offer to the Avalanche.
“I could bring a lot of good things,” Turgeon said.
Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville agreed.
“He can score, he can make plays. He’s great around the net. He should help our power play,” Quenneville said.
Turgeon was a four-time All-Star with three teams before being signed by Dallas as a free agent in 2001. But in the next three seasons, Turgeon’s scoring and assist totals dropped by half, from 30 goals and 52 assists in 2000-01 with the Blues to 15 goals and 25 assists in his final season with the Stars.
“His couple years in Dallas weren’t as successful as he had hoped,” Quenneville said. “We feel he’s revitalized, he’s excited about the opportunity.”
Quenneville also said Turgeon should benefit from new NHL rules made to encourage scoring. Colorado begins its preseason Saturday against Dallas at the Pepsi Center.
“The rule changes, the reward to offensive-type players and play, should enhance his game,” Quenneville said. “I think he should be able to continue to produce for us and all of a sudden jump-start his career again.”
Besides a possible career rebound, Turgeon is aching for the championship that has eluded him in his previous 17 seasons. He even took less money with Colorado than he could have earned from other teams, believing it was the place to get him a Stanley Cup.
“I’m at the stage of my career, I don’t have a lot of years left in front of me,” he said. “Obviously winning the Stanley Cup would be a big thing.”
Not that he doesn’t expect at least some transition, especially on a team that lost superstars Forsberg and Adam Foote because of the new collective bargaining agreement. Joe Sakic, Rob Blake, Alex Tanguay and Milan Hejduk remain, and will be joined by defenseman Patrice Brisebois, who was signed on the same day as Turgeon.
“There’s been a lot of movement. Obviously, getting in the locker room before games, you’re going to have to look at the lineup to see who’s your side,” Turgeon said.
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