After a slow start, Jurco became one of the Griffins’ most dangerous players in the second half of last season.
‘he’s just a YouTube guy’ and that made me mad,” he said. “I knew I had to prove I could be a good hockey player.” Sitting in the stands when he was healthy only stoked his competitive fires. “It was really frustrating for me because I’m not the type of guy who says, ‘I’m young, I don’t have to play.’ I always want to play and I always want to be the best, even if I’m playing on the best team,” Jurco said. “So the first few months were really hard.” Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill wasn’t completely surprised. “Jurco came in a really confident player but probably didn’t know how to play to be successful in pro hockey – he had to learn it,” Blashill said. “In the process, his confidence got chipped away a bit. As you’re struggling, that happens.” A few meetings with Blashill gave Jurco some direction. “We talked a lot,” Jurco said. “Blash is a great coach. He tells you what you have to improve to play for him. It’s good for players to know exactly what they need to do better.” He can’t pinpoint a particular game, but it was sometime in February – possibly when his buddy 54
Andrej Nestrasil rejoined the Griffins from Toledo – that things started to click for Jurco. “Jurco listened and bought into the process,” Blashill said. “He worked on the things that he needed to do to get better and in the end, I thought he emerged as one of our most dangerous players during the second half, especially when we lost (Gustav) Nyquist, (Joakim) Andersson and (Tomas) Tatar.” Looking back, Jurco thinks he might have been too tentative at first. “I was afraid to make turnovers,” he said. “I was playing too easy and that’s not my style of hockey. I like to play with the puck. I have to make plays. When I don’t have the puck, I’m not good. So I started carrying the puck a little more and really paying attention to winning every battle. Luckily, I started playing well and finished strong.” In March, Jurco recorded his first two-goal game. In April, he scored four goals in a sevengame stretch. In the Calder Cup Playoffs, he had eight goals, which was third best on the team. “His learning curve was great,” Blashill said. “He was as improved as any player we had, and he was only 20 years old – a lot of his peers were still playing junior hockey.”
Grand Rapids GRIFFINS • 2013 Calder Cup Champions
The official magazine of the Grand Rapids Griffins