Jurco was Detroit’s first choice (35th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
didn’t want to play with me because I wasn’t good,” he said. “But my sister said, ‘I’m not playing unless he’s playing.’ So they always took me, which was really nice.” Petra became like the brother he never had. They were inseparable. Other kids had joysticks; they had hockey sticks. They played together and got in trouble together. “I remember one time when we broke a window,” he said. “We were living in an apartment, like most families in Slovakia, and we were playing with a tennis ball in our room. My sister shot it, and I think it might have tipped off my stick because it bounced and cracked the window. “We tried to hide it so our mom wouldn’t see it because we knew she would be really mad. We put some flowers in the way, and I think we were able to hide it for about a week before she found it. At the time, she was pretty mad. Now, it’s a good memory.” Jurco flashed back on those childhood memories in the midst of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, when his sister was a member of Slovakia’s women’s hockey team and he was playing his first year in North America. 50
They were on opposite ends of the continent – he was playing for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – but he couldn’t have felt closer to her. “The time difference was less than if I had been home in Slovakia,” he said. “I remember watching late at night, and it was cool to see her play in an NHL arena in front of 20,000 people.” Thanks to his sister’s dutiful support, Jurco’s skill set was usually ahead of the other boys his age. It helped that he was slavishly devoted to improving his play, even when he wasn’t on the ice. “I’d sit on top of my bed with my stick, so if the puck fell, it wouldn’t make that much noise because my parents would get mad with all the banging,” he said. “I’d lean against the bed, the wall next to me. Sometimes it was hard not to hit the wall with the puck. It would leave marks and my mom would get mad. But the more I practiced, the better and better I got until there were less marks and less noise, too.” He enjoyed watching hockey clips on his computer, becoming especially fond of a certain young player in Pittsburgh. Jurco was 12 going on 13 when Sidney Crosby made his NHL debut.
Grand Rapids GRIFFINS • 2013 Calder Cup Champions
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