Found Kings development camp to be pretty intense
Ted Purcell got a glimpse of what life could be like as a Los Angeles King earlier this month when he attended the National Hockey League teams development camp just outside L.A.
Participants in the camp included Kings draft picks, unsigned prospects and players still operating on their first pro contract. Players between the ages of 18 and 24 were on hand, including highly touted defenceman Jack Johnson, a likely Calder Trophy candidate this season, and St. Johns Fog Devils captain Matt Fillier.
It was pretty intense, said Purcell, a 21-year-old St. Johns native. They try to cram a lot into a short period of time.
Each day, Purcells schedule began at 6:30 a.m. in the video room, as Kings head coach Marc Crawford broke down plays the young prospects would later execute on the ice. From there it was time for the first practice of the day, followed by a lunch break and another video session with Crawford and his assistants.
Later in the evening, the players took to the ice again for another practice, usually under the watchful eye of Kings general manager Dean Lombardi. When the camp ended, the Kings told Purcell they liked what they saw from him.
I wanted to show them what I had and I think I did pretty well, Purcell said. They brought me in there as a skill player and I think I showed that ... They told me theyre happy with my skill set.
While the Kings were impressed with Purcells puckhandling ability and offensive instincts, they kept encouraging him to bulk up.
They want me to get bigger and stronger ... want me to improve my leg strength, Purcell said.
Purcell signed a two-year contract with the Kings this spring after a successful one season of NCAA hockey with the Maine Black Bears. After registering 16 goals, 27 assists and 43 points in 39 games as a freshman, Purcell decided to forgo the final three years of his scholarship and instead try to make it in pro hockey.
The question now is where he will begin the 2007-08 season. It wouldnt be a surprise if the Kings assigned him to their American Hockey League affiliate, the Manchester, N.H., Monarchs, but there is an outside chance Purcell could crack the L.A. roster out of training camp.
They have a couple of spots open at right wing, so I have to get in that mind frame of being ready to fight for a job. I think theyll give me an opportunity to make the team ... I want to force them to keep me, said Purcell. But I have to be realistic. Im only 21. Id like to start with (the Kings), but its not a bad scenario if I end up in Manchester.
Purcell said that although all those at the Kings development camp will be competing against each other for spots in the organization, the mood was friendly. Players were told they werent allowed to fight and to save any animosity for the teams official training camp in September.
Was on a line with Fillier for a while
As a result, Purcell got to know a few players pretty well, including Fillier, a seventh-round pick of the Kings in this years NHL entry draft.
We played together for one game and actually did some good things together, Purcell said of Fillier. We hadnt met before, but we got along really well. Hes a nice kid. Hes a real hard worker.
Purcell also got friendly with Crawford, whose professional head coaching career started with three seasons behind the bench of the AHLs St. Johns Maple Leafs.
Crawford enjoyed reminiscing about his time in St. Johns whenever the two chatted.
He made a few jokes about going to Green Sleeves. He said its a big difference when you go from shovelling yourself out of the driveway in St. Johns to putting on sunscreen in L.A., said Purcell. (Crawford) was easy to talk to, he made it easy to get comfortable.
Purcell will remain in St. Johns for most of the summer, but will likely head to Los Angeles in last August to prepare for the Kings training camp. Los Angeles opens camp in early September.