Thompson shocked to get traded, calls it 'bittersweet'
Center Nate Thompson was at Keith Aulie's wedding in Saskatchewan over the weekend, hanging out with Lightning teammates Steven Stamkos, Eric Brewer and Mark Barberio.
Little did Thompson know it'd be a fitting farewell.
When Thompson, 29, landed back in Minnesota Sunday night, he started to see Tampa Bay's flurry of three trades to clear cap space. First it was Teddy Purcell to the Oilers and B.J. Crombeen to the Coyotes..
"I got back, was following all the news as I was landing, all this stuff was going on," Thompson told the Times. "And next thing you know, I was next."
Thompson, 29, an alternate captain, was traded to Anaheim for a fourth and seventh round pick.
"I got the call and I was in a little bit of shock for a little bit," Thompson said. "Whenever you find out you're traded it's always been a whirlwind and overwhelming. But at the same time, I'm really excited to go to a team like Anaheim, they're a team that's definitely building to win. They want to win now."
Thompson said general manager Steve Yzerman explained the reason was primarily to gain some cap space, and the center had a $1.6 million cap hit each of the next three seasons. But Thompson was grateful for Yzerman giving him a chance, claiming him off waivers from the Islanders in 2010 and giving him a four-year, $6.4 million deal last March. Thompson was a key contributor with Tampa Bay, including one of their top penalty killers and face-off men.
"He's been great to me," Thompson said of Yzerman. "He really kind of got my careeer jump-started and gave me an opportunity in Tampa. He was nothing but first class to me. It's definitely bittersweet to leave a place like Tampa, because I consider it home and a place where I kind of established myself as a solid NHL player. And that's definitely the sad part of it. When you're in this business you have to leave your friends and places that you really kind of grew up as a person, and I consider Tampa as that place."