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Son of former NHL star has worked hard on his game



TRIBUNE PHOTO: KENT FRASURE - Dominic Turgeon has emerged as a leader on and off the ice for the Portland Winterhawks.Ah, the spoils of being a kid of a pro athlete. In Dominic Turgeon’s case, he spent plenty of time in the locker rooms of NHL teams, and in and around big-time rinks and players, courtesy of being the son of one of the better scorers of his generation, Pierre Turgeon.

Jamie Kompon, general manager and coach of the Portland Winterhawks, for which the younger Turgeon serves as captain, remembers the young boy, while the elder played for St. Louis (1996-2001) and he served as assistant coach/video coach.

“I’ve seen him grow up before my eyes,” Kompon says of Dominic, 19 and born Feb. 25, 1996.

These days, Dominic works out with some famous players back home in suburban Denver, along with fellow Hawk Alex Overhardt. Overhardt’s father, Kurt Overhardt, founded and operates KO Sports, Inc., which represents several top NHL players — and now Dominic.

“It’s really cool, especially in the summers, the opportunities we get, the privileges we have,” says Overhardt, a second-year Hawk forward. “Whether it’s working out with other pro guys or skating with Pierre — he’ll come out and score a couple goals whenever we scrimmage. Cool privileges we both have.”

Adds Pierre: “I’m a dad, so I told him he doesn’t have to talk to me all the time. He has Kurt — he’s been around a long time, that’s a really good company. He tries to guide kids in the right way, not only in hockey. I met Kurt a couple years ago, and ... we’re very happy with him.”

Dominic, a center, has worked hard on his game, emphasizing defense in youth hockey rather than goals-assists-points, and it has paid off.

Drafted in the third round by Detroit in 2014, he signed with the Red Wings after last season. The Winterhawks — off a players’ vote — named him their 2015-16 captain in his fourth year with the major junior-level organization.

Dominic has been earning his stripes on his own merit and drawing rave reviews from people around him.

“It’s just his profesionalism, the way he carries himself on and off the ice. He makes people around him better,” Kompon says. “He’s the consummate pro. He could step right into a pro dressing room and just fit right in. His habits, the way he prepares both on and off the ice, are second to none.

“When you see someone who carries themselves like that, and you’re a young player, you want to aspire to be like him.”

Says Overhardt: “I’ve gotten to know Dom the past couple years. Coming into the season, everyone knew he’d be the captain. Great leader. Great person.”

Says Keegan Iverson, a 19-year-old teammate and former billet housemate: “Dom’s a good leader in the locker room. He’s kind of a quiet guy, but all the guys like him. You can tell he’s a leader on and off the ice.”

Turgeon calls it “an honor” to be Portland’s 41st captain in franchise history.

“I’m super excited about it,” he says, “and trying to be the best leader I can be.”

Adds his father: “It’s more responsibility, but he’s been there for years, he’s very mature and cares about his teammates. It’s a great fit for him. He cares. He cares about everyone. He’s always been like that.”

The 6-2, 200-pound Turgeon continues to work on his game. He played at times on Portland’s Memorial Cup-qualifying team in 2012-13, and he has gradually improved. While he stressed defense last season, his offensive production increased to 18 goals-25 assists-43 points. Travis Green, the coach of the 2012-13 Memorial Cup team, predicted Turgeon would tally 100-plus points in a Western Hockey League season. Turgeon smiles at the idea, knowing he needs to generate more points, and the Red Wings want him to get better offensively.

It’s funny, because Pierre Turgeon was a very good offensive player, almost immediately after debuting with Buffalo at age 18 in 1987-88. He played 19 seasons (for Buffalo, New York Islanders, Montreal, St. Louis, Dallas, Colorado) and 1,294 games, tallying 515 goals and 812 assists (1,327 points).

“He wants to make sure he takes care of his own zone,” Pierre says of his son. “He’ll stay behind the play all the time, won’t risk very much on the defensive side, which I like and a lot of coaches like.

“But now there’s a little more pressure. He’s got to create a little more with points, got to step up when the game’s on the line. He’s able to do it.”

Turgeon has confidence in his offensive abilities.

“(The Red Wings) do like the offensive side of my game, and I’m just working on my all-around game and getting it where it needs to be,” Turgeon says. “I do have the tendency to pass the puck more often; the big thing I’ve been working on is shooting the puck more.”

Says Kompon: “He’s still an elite defender; his responsibility is to check, and he loves that side of it. He’s got to learn to be a little more selfish and shoot the puck more. He has some top-end skill. It’s a matter of being selfish (in a positive way) and coming out of his shell a little. This is going to be a good coming-out year for him.”

Maybe Turgeon score some points when Pierre and his wife, Elisabeth, come see him play. As a retired NHL player, the elder Turgeon and his wife travel quite a bit. They have a daugther at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School (Minn.), Valerie, who also plays hockey. They have a daughter, Alexandra, who played volleyball at Denver University.

Alexandra’s twin sister, Elizabeth, who played hockey, was killed in an automobile accident almost five years ago. So, it’s important for the Turgeons to visit their kids and be with them.

Dominic remembers the days of hanging around NHL locker rooms, and it was a pleasure playing for his father in Colorado.

“If I need to talk about anything, he’s there, he’s a great help for me,” Dominic says. “I’m really happy to have a dad like that.”

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