Senators star leaves big void for special league
Turris served as honorary captain for the Capital City Condors
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The blockbuster trade that sent Ottawa Senators' forward Kyle Turris to the Nashville Predators has shaken a local league of kids with special needs.
Turris built a strong bond with players at the Capital City Condors through the five years he served as their honorary captain, often visiting them at home, skating with them and helping organize tournaments and galas. His sudden departure has left a big vacuum in their community, said program co-founder Jim Perkins.
"The kids are heartbroken. Their emotions are quite raw, some of them don't even understand why he's leaving," he said. Some parents have even said their children have failed to send in their goodbye messages because they keep breaking down in tears, he said.
"Kyle wasn't really even the superstar hockey player to them anymore. He was just Kyle the friend," he said, adding it'll be a while before they find a new replacement. "Superstars come and go but it feels different when a friend leaves."
Perkins helped start the Condors program about ten years ago, with the goal of helping kids with mental or physical disabilities to take part in the national game and feel included in the community. It's not about the competition but about "the size of the smile" on each kid's face, he said.
The program started with just three players but has now grown to over 100, coming from different parts of the city.
Perkins, who learned about the trade from Turris himself through a personal phone call Sunday evening, said the hockey star had a natural connection with the community right from the start. He specifically remembers the first time the two met to talk about the program and the role they wanted him to play.
"When we started talking about the kids, his face just lit up," said Perkins, noting Turris then borrowed the program's yearbook and took it home to share the news with his wife Julie - who also became a friend of the kids.
"It was very unique to have a pro athlete adopting our charity and becoming like an extension of our own families."