2003 - 2004
October 3, 2003
Veteran Turner returning to Generals
Center Mark Turner and former General winger Joel Irwin are the team's first signed players for 2003-04.
BY JEFF CARLTON
GREENSBORO - Mark Turner, one of the veteran players around whom the Greensboro Generals were built last year, re-signed with the team Thursday. Coach Rick Adduono hopes to sign another of last year's building blocks, goalie Daniel Berthiaume, in the corning days.
Turner, a 35-year-old center, and right wing Joel Irwin were the first two players to agree to contracts with the Generals following the resolution of the labor dispute between the ECHL and players union earlier this week.
Irwin played for the Generals from 1999 to 2001. Just four years out of college, he was a player Adduono wanted to invite back to Greensboro in the event the league reduced the number of veterans allowed per team. As it turned out, the maximum remains at four in the new collective bargaining agreement, and the career games for a vet is now up to 288.
Irwin won't reach that status until the 2005-06 season.
"It's a big step that the league made in letting us keep four veterans," Adduono said, "raising the number of games yet lowering the salary cap so that, financially, everything would be sound but we could bring in quality players."
Turner, in his 12th professional season, has been a veteran for a while. The center's leadership proved particularly valuable to the Generals last year when captain Jay Murphy was lost for two months with a finger injury.
A mainstay on the power play, he finished with 20 goals and 43 assists in the franchise's first winning season and had seven points in eight playoff games.
"The way he plays the game, his smarts and headiness alone probably won us five hockey games," said Adduono, whose Generals were 42-21-9 in his first season as coach.
Irwin scored 45 of his 75 career goals in his two seasons with Greensboro. He spent one season with the Pee Dee Pride before spending last season overseas.
"Joel Irwin was nothing but a pain for me when I coached South Carolina," Adduono said. "He's good on the power play and the penalty kill, he can play right wing or center, he plays with a constant energy and reads the game awfully well."
Irwin and Turner could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Adduono still has 18 roster spots to fill before the Generals open the season Oct. 17 against his former team, the Stingrays, at the Greensboro Coliseum. Training camp opens Monday at the Ice House.
Murphy won't be back after signing with Richmond of the United Hockey League. But Turner could be rejoined by Berthiaume, the 37-year-old goalie who won 30 games for the Generals in 2002-03. The team holds exclusive negotiating rights with Berthiaume and is trying to work out an agreement that will fit under the tighter salary cap.
"With Bert, we're very, very close right now," Adduono said.
Contact Jeff Canton at 373-7065 or jcarlton@newsrecorcd@com