The first two seasons of his professional career, Marty Turco was sent to the minors. It was the right decision. With Hall of Famer Ed Belfour in net, the Dallas Stars won the Stanley Cup and went to the final the next year. But when he was sent down prior to 1999-2000, a frustrated Turco went to the Stars GM to speak his mind. “All I ever asked for through peewee and bantam and college and even the NHL was a fair chance,” Turco said. “When I turned pro, I looked at Bob Gainey and said, ‘Just give me a fair chance. You want to send me down, send me down. But give me a fair chance to succeed.’ It was one of the scariest moments in my life, but I had the conviction to say it to him when he sent me down.”
Turco found his voice and was able to use it. He feels lucky. And now Turco devotes much of his life to helping those who feel they don’t have a voice of their own. In May he was named president of the Dallas Stars Foundation, and before that he held the same position for three years with the C5 Youth Foundation of Texas, a group he began working with even before he retired as a player. C5 empowers at-risk youth to help them graduate high school and go on to college. The program accepts about 25 kids a year and ushers them from the eighth grade through high school, providing mentorship programs, summer camps and a sense of accountability. There are anywhere between 125 and 200 students involved continuously.
Anyone who has ever spoken with Turco knows he’s a man of many words. Ask him one question about his work with the C5 foundation and he’ll go on uninterrupted for 11 minutes and 17 seconds. Trust us, we timed him. “It’s a simple question you asked, but I get passionate and long-winded about it,” Turco said. “But I don’t apologize for that.”
Turco realizes he has had a charmed life. By his own acknowledgement, he lived in a bubble growing up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., as a child of two hard-working parents. He married his high school sweetheart, earned a scholarship at the University of Michigan and went on to become one of the top goaltenders of his era. Even though he didn’t win a Stanley Cup, Turco twice recorded the best save percentage in the NHL. He was recognized for his off-ice work by winning the Stars’ Community Service Award in six of the nine seasons he played in Dallas as well as the NHL Player Foundation Award in 2006. After earning more than $33 million during his 12-year career, Turco knows his two daughters and son will lead an even more charmed life than he did. So he stands up for those who won’t through his foundation work.
Turco was one of the best puckhandling goalies the game has ever seen, and his ability to stickhandle his way through life off the ice has served him well. He juggles his business ventures with the responsibility of raising three children and his charity work. Still only 43 years old, Turco has the youthful vigor and the intelligence to make it work. And any foundation he works with should be happy to have him. Because, as he proved as a player, he won’t go down without a fight.
Born: Aug. 13, 1975, Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
NHL Career: 2000-12
Teams: Dal, Chi, Bos
Stats: 275-167-66, 2.36 GAA, .910 SP, 41 SO
All-Star: 1 (Second-1)
DID YOU KNOW?
He’s No. 74 on our list of all-time NHL goalies, but Turco may be No. 1 in the history of U.S. college hockey. Turco led the Michigan Wolverines to two national championships – taking home tournament MVP honors in 1998 – and holds the all-time record for NCAA wins with 127.