Marty Turco staying upbeat on bench

DALLAS -- This was supposed to be another happy -- and considering the time of season, a dramatic -- homecoming for Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marty Turco, who played for nine seasons with the Dallas Stars.

But Turco, who signed a free-agent contract last summer to be the Blackhawks' No. 1 goaltender, is resigned to being a backup. It's a role he accepted months ago, when coach Joel Quenneville tabbed Corey Crawford as No. 1.

"We're in Dallas, Texas," an exhausted Turco said after morning practice on Thursday. "Home to me for a long time. It's fun to be back, period.

"I don't know when I'm going to play next, but I have to be ready, and it's all about being the person you want to be. And I don't want to be someone that's looked upon as a negative. I want to be a positive on a positive team. When I look at it like that, which I do the majority of the time, it makes me happy inside."

Turco understands the reasons why Crawford won the job. Crawford is among the league leaders with a 2.31 goals against average and a respectable .917 save percentage. Turco's 3.01 GAA and .898 save percentage tell the story.

And with the Hawks jockeying for playoff position, Quenneville has no choice but to go with the hottest hand.

"I think the world of Corey and who he is and the type of goalie he is becoming," Turco said. "It would be a lot different situation -- or I might have a different choice of words -- if we weren't in this current situation with the way he's playing and how the team has responded. I don't take it personal. I have zero issues, except in my job. I'm not going to stop being me and the type of person and teammate that I strive to be."

Cristobal Huet went through a similar situation last season, losing his job to former Blackhawk Antti Niemi, who helped lead Chicago to the Stanley Cup title. Like Huet, Turco has handled it with class publicly, and by all accounts, privately.

"Turk is working at his game, staying sharp," Quenneville said. "He's ready to play.

"Obviously it's not what he was hoping for but things happen. You have to be a pro about it and be ready because things change quickly in our business."

Turco is aware of that notion as well. At any time he could be called upon to take the reins, and he wants to be ready.

"It's kind of what I told my wife, you have to keep the clouds away so when the time comes to shine, you're able to accept it," he said. "I come to the rink every day pouring my efforts into being better, leading by example."

Turco is hopeful both his current team and former one get in the playoffs, wishing "all his friends around the world, and on the Stars, the best." And if he can help the Blackhawks down the stretch, he would love that challenge.

"We're in a dogfight in the Western Conference that hasn't gone unnoticed by me, despite not playing in any games," Turco said. "But you never know, I have to stay ready."

Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.