'Skate hard, skate more': Jurco gets mission from Blashill

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Tomas Jurco

Detroit – Tomas Jurco is getting another chance to get into the Red Wings' lineup.

There's no question Jurco knows what he has to do if he wants to stay in the lineup.

He mentioned it several times during an interview Tuesday.

"I have to work hard," said Jurco, who'll got his chance Tuesday night against Carolina.

Jurco has played in just two of the team's first eight games, with no points, while averaging 10 minutes, 55 seconds per game.

Coming off a disappointing season, Jurco was expected to be rejuvenated while playing for a coach (Jeff Blashill) he thrived under in Grand Rapids, but that has yet to happen.

Blashill said last week the coaching staff has a long-term plan for Jurco.

"We felt he'd done some stuff in the last week to get into position to be successful," Blashill said. "He'll get another chance tonight to be evaluated."

Jurco, 22, was a 2011 second-round draft pick whose size (6-foot-1, 203-pounds), speed and stickhandling abilities impressed many scouts.

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Jurco showed that offensive potential in the American League but hasn't been consistently able to play at a productive level in the NHL.

"I just think he's going to be an effective player when he goes full-out at all times, and that's what we've tried to work on with him," Blashill said. "He has to be tenacious on the puck all the time."

Jurco knew he had to be patient to get back in the lineup, and show the coaches what they wanted to see.

"I was just working hard, just working my way back in," Jurco said. "I'm telling you, I was working real hard, (skated) extra a lot, and it's going to help me.

"I'm excited for (Tuesday's game)."

Blashill and Jurco met several times to talk about expectations.

"I just have to skate hard and skate more," Jurco said. "That's the main thing from Blash. He wants me to skate more and once I do that, and work hard, maybe make some plays."

There was debate last season whether Jurco, once his season began going downhill -- he scored three goals in 63 games while averaging just over 11 minutes of ice time -- was better off playing in Grand Rapids or remaining in the NHL.

The Red Wings ultimately decided the NHL was the best place for Jurco.

Looking back, Jurco agrees.

“I never want be in Grand Rapids if I can be here," he said. "The dream of every player is to be in the NHL. I wasn’t going to ask to go to Grand Rapids when I’m in the NHL.

“But last year is in the past and now we’re in the present and let’s think about the present and the future.”