What Marty Turco can learn from Kenny Rogers

10/25/2006 - NHL Marty Turco Dallas Stars + more

Do you think Marty Turco is a fan of the Detroit Tigers?

Not because he is a Michigan alum, but because he can relate to one of the Tigers' players. Not just any player, but the one who proved everyone wrong; the one who's done the unthinkable in the postseason; the one who is on an unexpected mission to change his legacy and walk away from this game with his head held up, not down.

Who can Turco relate to? None other than Kenny Rogers. The MLB veteran who, in the past, couldn't come up big in the postseason. All of that has changed for Rogers this fall with the Tigers as he helped shut out two of his former teams -- the big, bad Yankees and the Oakland A's -- to help lead Detroit to its first World Series appearance since the Tigers won it all in 1984.

And Marty, if it can happen for The Gambler, it can happen for The Gargoyle.

The man whose mask is covered with gargoyles, the Stars' goalie is like the figure; Turco is protective, he's the gatekeeper. Turco surrounds himself with gargoyles -- in his office and on his mask. Unfortunately for Turco, the symbolism and spirit hasn't warded off the Avalanche ... and those playoff demons.

Turco excels in the regular season (and the Stars are already off to a good start), but he is 8-14 in the postseason and his Stars have fallen as a No. 1 seed in 2003 and as a No. 2 last postseason.

So, why am I bringing this up now, you might ask? To answer that, we need to flash back to what got Turco here in the first place.

He has defied the odds. At age 10, he decided to play in net because he was too small to play forward. He played Junior B hockey, and the most he thought he'd get was a scholarship to some small college somewhere. Instead, Michigan came knocking. Why? Because UM's legendary hockey coach, Red Berenson, saw something in Turco. Berenson once said, "You watched [Turco] and you knew he was going to be a winner." So, Berenson and Michigan took a chance on Turco, who led the Wolverines to a pair of national titles. Not bad for a kid who barely measured 5 feet tall at age 14.

Yet, among all of his NHL accomplishments, including his 41-win season in 2005-06, he has won just one playoff series in his career.

Whether it's the NHL, MLB, NFL or NBA, it's only the playoffs and championships that matter. And there's no other position in any sport that means more in the postseason than a goalie in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It defines your career. The good news for Marty is that he has the support of teammates, management and fans, and Turco will be the first to tell you that he doesn't want to go down in history as the best regular-season goalie money can buy.

It's only October. Turco could be inspired by Rogers and the Tigers' improbable run. But you can bet that this gargoyle-masked man can't wait for April.

Hooked on hockey, Linda Cohn is an anchor for ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS. She has been with the network since 1992 and promises a gluttony of glove saves in her weekly column.