Wings’ Jurco puts last season’s struggles behind him

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Tomas Jurco makes it plain he isn’t thinking about last season.

That’s in the past, long in the rear-view mirror, and Jurco is full speed ahead on the 2015-16 schedule.

For good reason. Jurco had three goals last season, while playing in 68 games, so the frustration arrived early and continued to build.

The season before, Jurco burst onto the scene scoring eight goals in 36 games, looking like the explosive, big, goal-scoring wing the Red Wings envisioned him being when they drafted him in the second round in 2011.

Maybe it was just a hiccup. Maybe last season was just a learning tool.

“A long time for sure,” said Jurco, of what the season felt like for him. “I always thought it (his luck) would break but it didn’t. The season was going one place (downward) and this season it’s going to go somewhere else.

“I had chances early on and it wouldn’t go in, no matter what. And when that happens, it sticks with you, in your mind.

“It wasn’t a great season.”

But this is a new one, with a new coach, Jeff Blashill, who was with Jurco when both were part of the 2013 Calder Cup championship team in Grand Rapids with which Jurco starred.

A brand new season.

“I’m excited, especially with me not having a great last season, but it’s over, we can stop talking about it,” Jurco said. “I’m going to keep thinking forward (about the future).”

Jurco is temporarily replacing Darren Helm (concussion) on a line with Brad Richards and Tomas Tatar, his locker neighbor.

Tatar is seeing a different Jurco on the ice.

“He is (hungry) for sure,” Tatar said. “You can see it in practice. He loves hockey again and it’s good to see.

“He did a good job in the summer getting stronger and faster. He’s mentally preparing.”

Blashill wants to see a player close to the one Jurco was in the American League, where he was essentially a point-per-game player.

“You go through the American League, and there aren’t a lot of guys like that,” Blashill said. “I hope he takes advantage (of the opportunity), is strong on the puck and brings some of the tenacity that Helmer brings to the table. We think he has a real good skill set.”

Ice chips

Goaltender Petr Mrazek will start Wednesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks with Jared Coreau replacing Mrazek either midway through the game, or after two periods.

… Richards and defenseman Mike Green will both make their Red Wings debuts at Joe Louis Arena. Green will be paired with Danny DeKeyser.

… The Blackhawks will have a lineup dominated by their minor leaguers, although there is one familiar name for Red Wings (and Blackhawks) fans. Former Wings forward Tomas Kopecky is in the Chicago lineup, in camp on a pro tryout.