Lightning trades Jeff Halpern to the Kings
Jeff Halpern said he has never played for a team with a tighter locker room than this year's Tampa Bay Lightning. That, the center said, will be what he misses most about leaving Tampa Bay. Halpern was traded Wednesday to the Kings for left wing Teddy Purcell and a third-round draft pick.
"Just an unbelievable group of guys," Halpern said of his Lightning teammates. "I made some tremendous friends. That's the most difficult thing, to be leaving such a great group of guys. I wish them the best."
Halpern, 33, was acquired from the Stars in February 2008 with goaltender Mike Smith and forward Jussi Jokinen in the Brad Richards deal. He admitted he was disappointed at the time to go from a playoff team to one that missed the playoffs, and being out of the playoffs again last season was frustrating. But there were some compensations.
"Again, I would say the biggest thing that I take from my time here was the teammates and group of guys," Halpern said. "I played on a lot of teams and this is the tightest group and the best (locker) room I have ever been part of."
As for coach Rick Tocchet, Halpern said, "He's been a pleasure to play for."
He wishes the organization "nothing but the best," but now his focus is with the Kings.
"It's an exciting time," he said. "They're in a great position now to get into the playoffs and do some damage. I'll go out there and try to help out as much as I can and be a part of a playoff push."
Purcell, 24, is a 6-foot-2, 198-pound left wing, who has three goals and six points and four penalty minutes in 41 games for Los Angeles, though he has been a scratch in 18 of the Kings' past 22 games. His claim to fame seems to be that he made the AHL All-Star team the past two seasons, and this season had five assists in the All-Star game.
Halpern is in the final year of a contract that is paying $2 million. He has nine goals and 17 points in 55 games and is minus-14. Purcell is making $600,000 this season, and will be a restricted free agent.