Teddy Purcell will wear No. 16 for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Where will he play?
Teddy Purcell, part of the Tampa Bay Lightning's only trade-deadline deal on Wednesday, was on the ice for Thursday's morning skate and will wear No. 16. The bigger question is with whom will he play? Coach Rick Tocchet said on Wednesday he might slot Purcell in on Vinny Lecavalier's line, but on Thursday Tocchet said he is still trying to figure it all out. Lecavalier, too, said he had not been told who his line mates will be.
Either way, Purcell, traded with a 2010 third-round draft pick for Jeff Halpern, said he is excited to get a "fresh start" with Tampa Bay after being a scratch in 18 of his final 22 games with the Kings.
"At the beginning of the year I was playing a lot of minutes and playing a lot of power play and feeling comfortable," Purcell said. "For whatever reason, the points weren't coming. I'm an offensive type of guy. The chances were there. The points just weren't coming. The coach decided to mix some things up, and the last little while I was bouncing around between the fourth line and not playing, not a lot of power play, not a lot of minutes. This is a fresh start for me, so I'm looking forward to it."
It would seem Lecavalier's line would be a good place to start. We heard a lot from GM Brian Lawton on Wednesday about Purcell's untapped potential and how he is a potential "diamond in the rough," so why fool around. Put him with Lecavalier and let's see what he can do. Maybe they can help each other."
Tocchet was asked if he ever considered splitting up center Steven Stamkos and wing Marty St. Louis so as to pair St. Louis and Lecavalier in the seemingly never-ending quest to get Lecavalier going.
"We discussed it, but you break that up, and if things don't work, then what do you do? Did you kill the mojo?" Tocchet said. "They work so well together. I mean, it's hard to break up a guy like Stammer, with the pace he's on, and Marty. It really is. I know where you're coming from, and I've done it a few times, three or four shifts a game, where I've tried to get Vinny on with Stammer and Marty."
Some interesting stuff on Purcell:
He attended the same high school as Lecavalier -- Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Saskatchewan. Of course, Purcell was there (in 2003-04) well after Lecavalier left. But having attended the school of 450 in a small rural town of 222 creates an instant bond. "It definitely is that way," Lecavalier said. "I didn't realize he went there. It's fun. We can share stories. There's definitely a bond." Purcell agreed. "It's such a small place. It's built around that hockey school. So, if you went to Notre Dame, there's that kind of instant bond right away. It's a good ice-breaker." Asked for a funny story about Notre Dame, Purcell told of the day he first showed up. "The guy picked me up at the airport, and it's about 30 minutes away. I had my roller blades in the bag and he asked what I was going to do that day. I said, 'I don't know. Maybe put on my roller blades and run around town and see what it's about.' He said, 'No, you won't.' I was like, 'My roller blades are right there.' He said, 'There are no paved roads.' he wasn't lying. So, that was my welcome to Notre Dame moment."
Purcell has the same agent as Lecavalier -- Boston-based Kent Hughes.
Purcell said he found out he was traded by watching Canada's TSN, the equivalent of ESPN. "We had practice (Wednesday) and we're all watching TradeCentre. We're all sitting around the dressing room watching it. 'Halpern is going to LA.' At first we thought it was going to be for a draft pick, and, then, two minutes later, 'More news on the Halpern trade. Teddy Purcell is going the other way.' " Nobody knew how to react. All the guys were around. It was a little awkward at first, but that's part of it. I'll survive. We kind of laughed and joked about it afterward." Asked if he would have liked to have been notified by the team, Purcell said, "I mean, maybe a phone call or something. But at the end of the day it would have happened either way. I always try to take a positive. I was around all my buddies when I found out. Either way, I was getting traded, so it doesn't really matter. it's just kind of a funny story, I guess."
Other stuff from the morning skate: Mike Smith gets the start in net. ... Defenseman Matt Walker (lower body) skated this morning but will not play, but it sounds as if he almost is ready to go. ... The defensive pairing of Mike Lundin and Victor Hedman did so well the last time the two teams played, it has been reestablished for at least one game. ... Center Zenon Konopka said he will miss Jeff Halpern more as a buddy than as a player. Konopka has been the architect of the Tampa Bay locker room, making it one of the closest in the league. So when Halpern said he has never been part of a better locker room, Konopka took it as a compliment. "It's amazing that he said that, and I do take it as a compliment," Konopka said. "He was part of the glue that kept things together here. We worked hard on this group at the end of last year to the start of this year, to where we are now. We're in a much better place as a dressing room, and that's great to see." Konopka continued, "Not only is (Halpern) a a terrific guy, he's an intelligent guy, too. A lot of the decisions maybe weren't made by him, but they went through him, and they always had his stamp of approval with what went on here. To not have that stamp of approval is tough." Asked who takes over, Konopka said, "I don't think one person can replace him. It will have to be kind of a group effort. I was more rattled losing him as a friend than a teammate." ... Speaking of getting traded, coach Rick Tocchet had a good story about his days as a player when the process was less than delicate. He said the coach would get called off the ice during a practice and the players, basically, would wait for him to get back with the news of who was gone. While they waited, "We would just skate around for 20 minutes, waiting." Now, the process is more civilized, he said. "You try to make it as comfortable as possible. You try to make some concessions to make it a little easier, but the anxiety is still there." ... Not for Konopka, who said after playing in the minors for so long, he's just happy to be in the league. "I've been through a lot of weird situations in a lot of leagues where you're not treated nearly as well as you are up here. When you get traded in the East Coast league, you kind of have to find your own way down there. It's not a first-class thing, so nothing else can break you. Here, you're at the best level in the world. Too many people worry enough for all of us."