In part two of our interview with Montreal Canadiens forward Kirby Dach’s shooting coach, Tim Turk, we delve into a variety of topics, including what it means to shoot like a spy, Dach’s one-sided fight with Andrew Copp, and how he reacted to hearing the news the team that drafted him had traded him to the Habs.
If you missed part one of our interview, you can read it here.
Now that Tim Turk has worked with the Canadiens forward on a few occasions, he’s starting to get a better idea of what the 22-year-old forward needs to focus on if he’s to improve his scoring rate.
And when it comes to players with a 6’4″ frame such as Dach, it’s all about getting small, so to speak.
“The other focus point was to get his body lower to the ice,” explained Turk. ” That’s the important thing with big guys. Lower the posture by getting a separation between your feet. The further your feet are apart without compromising, the better it is.”
By compacting their body and widening their stances, taller players can create an impressive amount of speed, or as I like to call it, ‘whip’.
But improving the speed of release is just one part of the equation.
For players to truly succeed, Turk suggests that they need to evolve, because goalies are using more than just their sight to track pucks.
“One of the things that goalie coaches are teaching is how to fight the traffic in front of the net,” said Turk. “If you’re impairing the goalie’s vision, they start to rely on acoustics to react. If I’m a goalie and I can’t see, but I can hear the puck, I’ll get big. But if I don’t hear the shot release, I have no idea what’s coming.”
The key to circumventing acoustic reactions? A stealthy approach that doesn’t allow a goaltender to adjust to the shot.
“I teach the players to shoot like a spy,” says Turk. “We want these guys to recognize that when they see traffic and they have an opportunity for a release, try to do it the old-school wrister style, silently. Take that shot silently, and if it doesn’t score, it’ll probably create a second-chance scoring opportunity.”
You Should Have Known Who That Was, Turkey
As per usual, Turkey, as his friends call him, had a highly entertaining story to drive the point home.
“I was skating with a group of players, and I was watching this young guy shoot. I asked him if he was a spy. The guy was confused, so I explained that when he shoots the puck in certain situations he’s not making any sound. It’s impressive.”
“Oh, that makes sense,” acknowledged the player.
A few days later Turk was skating with NHL players in Vancouver.
He received a text message from a number he did not recognize.
It said, “Hey, I would like to work with you if you are willing to and have the time?”
The player signed his name at the bottom of the text, but Turk, who doesn’t pay particularly close attention to the NHL Draft, did not immediately recognize it.
“Does anyone know this Dahlin guy? Should I work with him?” asked Turk in the locker room.
“Turkey! That’s my f**cking roommate, Razzy” replied Buffalo Sabers forward Tyson Jost.
The text was coming from the first-overall pick at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, Rasmus Dahlin, the very same player who impressed Turk with how silent he was taking shots during a previous skate.
At this point, I interject by mentioning that a former member of the Canadiens also had a pretty good wrist shot and that it seemed like his release was also of the silent variety.
Le Magicien, Alex Kovalev.
“Kovy has helped me more than any other player has helped me,” said Turk. “Just to be able to study how he does things, how he had the ability to get close when he had the puck. The thing he did really well when he shot, which he shared with another great shooter called Alex Mogilny, is that they had more wrist action than they had push/pull.
“One hand pulls and one hand pushes when you shoot, and those guys’ wrists moved very quickly. Kovalev had the ability strength-wise, and technique-wise, to activate his wrist. It was silent. And he had a damn good backhand, but he never wanted to use it. He hated using his backhand, even on passing, and he’d leave pucks exposed before passes, but no one could take it off him.”
Turk follows up with a first-hand account of Kirby Dach’s reaction to the trade that sent him from the Canadiens. Dach happened to be working with Turk at the time of the trade.
The first thing Dach mentioned was that he was a little saddened he would not have an opportunity to play with his brother, Colton.
The second thing he said? “Well, now I have a lot of work to do.”
Dach was on a mission, and not necessarily to prove the Chicago Blackhawks wrong for trading him, but to prove the Canadiens right for believing in him.
Fast forward a year, and Dach couldn’t be happier with his situation with the Canadiens.
Turk explains that Dach loves it in Montreal and that he genuinely appreciates the support from the throngs of loyal fans. He added that he matches their passion for the team with his passion for making the team better.
— Priyanta Emrith (@HabsInHighHeels) November 25, 2022
“He’ll do all he can to help that city win,” says Turk.
Part of helping the team win will be improving their powerplay, which has been rather demoralizing, to say the least.
Part of the plan next season is for Dach to touch the puck more often, that way he can alleviate some of the pressure on Nick Suzuki while creating time and space for his teammates.
That means studying more tape and playing a bigger role as a part-time conductor, which also entails much more practice to improve his anticipation and muscle memory.
“Repetition creates consistency. Kirby will do it over, and over again,” exclaims Turk, pointing to Dach’s willingness to improve at any cost.
But it has to be done with one important thing in mind: having fun.
“When we’re on the ice, it’s important that these guys have fun while they’re working, fun while they’re improving,” said Turk. “It’s serious fun because they need to improve. But it has to be fun.”
Part of the fun last season, at least from a fan perspective, was watching Dach oblige Detroit Red Wings forward Andrew Copp with a center-ice fight that was about as one-sided as the time Shane Mosley tuned up Antonio Margarito.
And while that may have been rather entertaining for fans at the Bell Centre, it takes a whole new meaning for a shooting coach, who knows how important a player’s health is when it comes to performing in the NHL.
But Turk, ever the optimist, saw it as a positive event for Dach, who is known as a gentle giant in hockey circles.
“That’s when the tension elevates, even more,” said Turk. “When they get into those types of confrontations, I try to channel that energy into another offensive opportunity. The fight was a great release of tension, but now, let’s bring that energy to your approach of taking shots. Confidence is never lost, it just gets redirected to certain areas.”
Stay tuned for part three of our interview with NHL shooting coach, Tim Turk. We will discuss some of his more interesting stories during his time with the Montreal Canadiens, including stories about Carey Price, Nathan Beaulieu, Michel Therrien, Andrei Markov, and Kovalev.
If you would like to follow Turk on Twitter, you can find his account here.