Pierre Turgeon’s face beamed as he spoke in the dim service hallways of Bell Centre. The two-decade old memories bubbled to the surface.
Turgeon served as captain of the Montreal Canadiens only briefly, but it coincided with the closing of the famed Montreal Forum in 1996, and he is forever remembered for taking a turn of the torch passing in a stirring ceremony.
“For me to be in the right place at the right time …,” Turgeon said. “When I come back here, just walking today, it gives me goose bumps.”
Turgeon was back in the spotlight Wednesday. His return to Montreal is a homecoming, and it happens to be as Kings offensive coordinator during a scoring binge to start the season. They are among the top teams in the NHL at 3.44 goals per game, or one goal more than they averaged last season.
Turgeon, hired in the offseason to help the Kings improve, relays observations to assistant coach Don Nachbaur and gives tips to players. It’s part of an overall concept that encourages players to open up in the offensive zone.
“The changes are that we want to have creation in our game,” Turgeon said. “The creation is something that we want to use. If that creates more scoring chances or the ability to keep the puck, or having some ideas that brings us some value, it’s good. It’s fun.”
Dustin Brown said one tip Turgeon gave him was to keep his top hand farther away from his body on one-time shots, for better range of motion.
“As good as players are in the NHL, they don’t think about details like that,” Brown said.
It’s also Turgeon’s low-key direction that players like because they are suggestions and not instructions, Brown said. Brown is a beneficiary with five goals. Anze Kopitar has six goals.
“We’ve been a dangerous team every night,” Brown said.
Nine games is not enough to judge the new offense, and Kings coach John Stevens always emphasizes their defensive identity. He also is receptive to the presence of a player with 515 career goals.
“First and foremost, he’s a great person,” Stevens said of Turgeon. “A strong character guy that’s got a great personality and passion for the game. … He’s the guy that played the game at a high level offensively who can really give us some keen insight into what we’re trying to get accomplished.”
Brown, Kopitar and Drew Doughty were part of an amusing pre-faceoff moment that went viral Tuesday. The trio debated who was going to defend Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson in overtime, and all four parties laughed about it.
“Dewey asked me if I wanted to guard him,” Brown said. “I said ‘no.’ I ended up guarding him anyway.
“There’s funny moments like that, probably in almost every game. But that was a little unique because [Karlsson] was in on it too.”
When: 4:30 p.m. PDT, Thursday
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Update: The Canadiens are in crisis management with a 2-6-1 start and minus-16 goal differential. General manager Marc Bergevin told reporters Wednesday they lack confidence but that he believed in the current roster. The Kings won 5-1 on Adrian Kempe’s hat trick on Oct.18.