When two people endure problems with communication- or the lack thereof- in their shared relationship, key aspects of the relationship will begin to fail. The crumbling of trust will tee it off, then the dismantling of security one party feels with the other will follow. If it worsens beyond that, the love once felt will ultimately be lost.
The Predators' front office has consciously chosen to withhold information about the benching of Kyle Turris since the Nov. 19 game against Winnipeg- the first of his seven-game forced sabbatical. Had the team disclosed any information at all about the forward- be it an injury, a personal family problem, a contractual dispute, etc.- we would be having a different discussion. However, as far as any of us fans are aware, the team has not released any tangible reasons for scratching Turris. And no, "It was a lineup decision" is not a valid reason.
When a player is injured, NHL teams will typically just announce its basic classification- upper or lower body- and how long they will be gone to the general public. For all intents and purposes, that is an acceptable enough explanation for a player's absence. Suspensions are obvious reasons to not dress a player. Placing a player on Family Leave isn't common, but it's nonetheless a clear enough reason. Even if a player is holding out his or her talent from their team due to administrative differences (see historically: Ken Dryden and Mark Messier, and more recently: William Nylander and Mitch Marner) most of the gritty details are eventually fleshed out by the media.
Turris' situation is as mysterious as they come, especially when all you have to work with are unverified theories. The running theory was that David Poile kept him out so as to prepare him for a trade. Two and a half weeks later, Poile has yet to move Turris. It's not such a far-fetched notion to think that an under-performing, $6 million per year forward would be on the trade block. But after seven games with no breaking news, the silence became deafening.
It still is, really.
Another theory is that Turris and Peter Laviolette have butted heads over playing time or other opportunities Turris is either getting or not getting. A potential rift between a player and his coach can be costly, and in this case, it could have been the reason Turris sat for seven games. Again, simply a theory.
During the game before Thanksgiving against Vegas at Bridgestone Arena, a fan held up a "Thankful For The Preds" poster. It naturally seemed innocent and corny enough for the Jumbotron. That's when the fan in question dropped the first poster to reveal another poster directly behind it, this one bearing a much different message: "FREE TURRIS".
The sentiment was widely felt among fans. It's true that his head has been called for since the beginning of the season; Turris has been an easy scapegoat for the team's many shortcomings, as he has only 11 points in 21 games with a -3 rating while also absorbing a decent chunk of the Preds' salary cap. Taking Turris out of the lineup didn't really sway the team's play in either a positive or negative direction; they went 3-3-1 without him on the ice.
The point where it started to burn Preds fans- and probably Turris himself- was when Poile opted to call up Mathieu Olivier from the AHL instead of just sticking with Turris in a time where lineup stability is being toyed with before what seems like every game. Inserting Olivier, who, at the time of Turris' benching, had played in exactly zero NHL games was a frustrating choice by Poile, especially since his alternative was a solidified, proven NHL player who had 683 games under his belt. Frustrations mounted even higher when the party responsible for the confusion went effectively radio silent on the issue.
At a time when the Predators, who are currently sixth in the Central Division, are playing with a lot left to be desired, there isn't a lot of patience left in fans' reserve tanks to willingly accept the healthy scratching of an important player.
No professional hockey player in this day and age is going to intentionally launch him/herself into a public relations debacle complaining about a teammate or coach. That being said, I'm sure it's even more aggravating being a player for the Preds and being kept just as in the dark about Turris' situation as everyone outside the organization. If you're a linemate of Turris and suddenly the guy who's been feeding you pucks is taken out without a valid explanation or suitable replacement, your stats- and thus your player value- are going to drop.
Turris is back, and he returned with a strong will against Tampa Bay last Tuesday, recording a goal and an assist each. However, he hasn't recorded a point in the last two games. There is still no explanation being given for Turris' extended forced absence, and Turris himself has been very adamant about his desire to stay in Nashville and play for the Predators.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how good or bad an NHL player is playing, organizations still have an obligation to keep fans informed. Withholding pertinent information from your fanbase is a slap in the face to the people who invest their time, emotions, and, most of all, money into their team- your team. It's a matter of mutual respect, which cannot simply be a unilateral effort by fans that isn't reciprocated in the end.