Turco ends holdout, signs three-year deal
September 18, 2003
By J. Douglas Foster
They talked basically every day. They had lunch together at least once. They tried every avenue to come to a compromise between Turco's request and the Stars' offer.
Thursday morning, those open lines paid off as the Stars and Turco agreed to terms on a new three-year contract, ending Turco's holdout just before his teammates returned to Dallas after a week in Colorado -- and at the same time easing the minds of Stars fans everywhere.
"You've really got to give the credit to Francois and Kurt," Stars General Manager Doug Armstrong said. "They kept coming up with ideas of how to get this done. Without their constant effort I don't know if we would have gotten it done this quickly."
Turco became a holdout last Thursday, the night training camp officially began, when he turned down the three-year off the Stars put on the table that day.
Therefore, he didn't come to camp, instead returning to his home in Ontario.
However he, Overhardt and the Stars made sure to continue pursuing a deal, which is what landed Turco's agent in Colorado during the team's workouts.
"We thought it was imperative to communicate and not hide any feelings, and be honest," Turco said. "It was important for me to join my teammates in the pursuit of building a championship team. I think it was imperative that we worked at it, while being fair and honest, and I thought we accomplished that.
"Now that it's done I can get back with the boys and get at it."
Turco's absence certainly loomed in the minds of Stars fans, as it did with Turco and the Stars front office.
However, Armstrong said he was confident the team would reach an agreement with their prize goaltender.
"I felt all along if we kept working at it (it would get done)," Armstrong said. "I'm just glad when we get back to Dallas that Marty will be with us and we'll be able to focus on what's important.
"Unfortunately, business is such a big part of the sport. I feel bad for the fans that they had to deal with it every day and they couldn't focus on what they really enjoy, and that's watching hockey."
They can now, as Turco plans on being back in Dallas to join the Stars for the remainder of camp on Friday. In fact, he was in the airport Thursday afternoon, though he said he's not sure when he will start playing.
The important thing for both Turco and the Stars, Armstrong said, is that everyone understood the negotiations were business -- and not personal.
Armstrong said he made sure to point that out to Turco all along.
"Marty and I talked a few times," Armstrong said. "We talked after the meeting on Thursday and we talked yesterday. We stayed in contact, and I think it's important that it was never anything personal.
"We're fine from our side, and I feel comfortable talking for Marty that there is a healthy respect and a healthy relationship between the Dallas Stars and Marty, and that when he gets here Friday it will be just like it was last year."
Last year, Turco posted the lowest goals-against average (1.72) since World War II, shattering the former record of 1.77 by both Tony Esposito in 1971-72 and Al Rollins in 1950-51. He also finished with a save percentage of .93230, the second best since 1976-77 -- the first year that stat was kept for individual goaltenders (Dominik Hasek in 1998-99, .937). Finishing second to Martin Brodeur of New Jersey in the 2003 Vezina Trophy voting, Turco also was named to the NHL Postseason Second All-Star Team.
Named the 2002-03 Stars' Bill Masterton Award winner as team MVP as voted by his teammates, Turco gave up one goal or less in 30 of his 55 appearances last season (54.5 percent). Appearing in his first NHL All-Star Game on Feb. 2 in Florida, he earned the win in net for the Western Conference as he stopped 10 of 11 shots and three of four in the overtime shootout. Turco was named the NHL Player of the Month for January, posting an 8-0-2 record, a 1.92 goals-against-average and a .929 save percentage during that month. He also registered a franchise-record 16-game unbeaten streak (12-0-4) from Dec. 29-Mar. 25, notching a 1.80 goals-against-average and a .930 save percentage in 19 appearances over the streak.
Turco believes he and the Stars can be just as successful -- if not more so -- this season. So the important thing, in his mind, was getting back to playing.
"I certainly believed in what I was doing. But I also believe in this hockey club more than anything," Turco said. "Right now it's whatever it takes for me and this team to win.
"It's no big secret where my heart is, and that's in that locker room."