It took only 90 seconds into a phone interview with Julie Turris for one of her three children to start tugging at her pant leg...
“Sorry, one second, one of them is crying,” she says with a laugh. “My 4-year-old just got up from her nap, so it’s always a bit iffy at this time.”
The wife of Nashville Predators forward Kyle Turris has been in Canada for one week, with her husband right behind her hitting the ice again this weekend at the NHL’s 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier games.
“We just decided with Kyle getting back into training and then leaving for Edmonton, it’d be good to come back where we have some family and more support if we’re going to be on our own for a bit,” she said.
Along with 11 other Western Conference teams, the Preds reported to the NHL hub city of Edmonton on July 26, with their Qualifying Round series against the Arizona Coyotes slated to start this Sunday, Aug. 2.
Turris, who moved to Nashville in November 2017 when her husband was traded from the Ottawa Senators, admits that resuming hockey season is bittersweet because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The team ended on such a high note back in March when everything shut down, so it feels good to have a little bit of normalcy back,” she explains. “Obviously, there’s a bit of nervousness with it as well with everything going on, and a bit of sadness too going from being able to spend all this time together.”
Ida Ekholm Björnstad, who alongside Julie Turris co-hosts the popular podcast Off Ice with Ida & Julie, had quite the memorable summer as well, but for other reasons.
“We got married!” Björnstad said of her wedding to defenseman Mattias Ekholm. “Our ceremony was so little and so cozy. I missed having all my friends of course. But at the same time, it was super special just doing it the two of us with some close family.”
Björnstad and Ekholm, along with their 2-year-old son, William, got the last Scandinavian Airlines flight to their home country of Sweden once it became clear in late March that the pause to the 2019-20 NHL season wouldn’t be brief.
“When everything started, we had no idea what to expect,” she says. “It was so great to have him home and all of us together because, even when he’s home during the season, he’s not really home with all that he has to do.”
Having both quality and quantity family time together was a rare and unexpected blessing for both women.
“During the season, our schedules are so all over the place that we never get to sit down and have dinner together,” Turris says. “With him being home this past couple of months, we got to share a meal every night.”
Though supportive of and hopeful about her husband’s upcoming Stanley Cup run, Björnstad — who had a long career in sports broadcasting in Sweden — can’t help but echo Turris’ mixed feelings about hockey’s return.
“I love hockey and I firmly believe that Nashville needs it more than ever right now,”
Björnstad says. “But I’m also a newlywed. I’m here in Sweden with my son and we miss him every second of every day. I wish that we could be together, but we can’t. And it’s weird not knowing how long it will take before we get to see him again.”
At the end of the day, being on the road can take its toll. Babies don’t care if their dads have multimillion-dollar athletic contracts to fulfill. It’s a topic touched on in Björnstad and Turris’ podcast, which kicked off in 2019.
“It takes a lot on the guys and it takes a lot on us, too,” Björnstad said. “It’s really tough and there’s so much pressure to take care of the house and kids, not to mention maintaining or starting a career. I have the deepest respect for moms.”
Turris trained as a teacher and admits she was apprehensive when Björnstad first approached her about launching a podcast to discuss the lives of hockey families off the ice.
“It was something I thought I’d never do,” she says. “Kyle and I are pretty private, but it’s been great to talk to these girls who have these incredible behind-the-scenes stories that rarely get heard.”
The show — which has featured everyone from the wife of Preds’ Head Coach Kristen Laviolette to Austin Watson’s girlfriend Jenn Guardino — took a pause for the summer. However, Turris promises they’ll be back at the mic soon.
“Ida’s still in Sweden with William and I’m here in Canada with my kids, but we definitely hope to do a couple episodes long distance now that playoffs are starting,” she says.
There’s no doubt these two podcast hosts, wives and mothers (not in that order) will miss being on the other side of the glass watching No. 14 and No. 8 in action. Until that day returns, they will have to cheer them on from home like other Preds’ fans.
The first puck is scheduled to drop at 1 p.m. CT on Aug. 2 as Nashville and Arizona begin their best-of-5 series to start Phase 4 of the NHL’s Return To Play Plan. All of Nashville’s games will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
The full schedule for the series is as follows:
Game 1: Aug. 2, 1 p.m. CT
Game 2: Aug. 4, 1:30 p.m. CT
Game 3: Aug. 5, 1:30 p.m. CT
*Game 4: Aug. 7, TBD
*Game 5: Aug. 9, TBD (*If Necessary).