Purcell working on a King-sized goal

Robin
Robin Short
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AHL rookie of the year has good shot at full-time job in L.A.

A year after dipping his toes in the Los Angeles Kings' training camp pool, Teddy Purcell is prepared to make a plunge at this year's camp in El Segundo, Calif.

Last September, when he arrived at the Kings' camp , Purcell was a jittery rookie, less than a year removed from college hockey and a little green around the horns.

St. John's native Ted Purcell had a goal and two assists in a 10-game stint with the Los Angeles Kings last season. He's looking for full-time employment in L.A. this year and is eyeing an opening on the Kings' second line. File photo

A year after dipping his toes in the Los Angeles Kings' training camp pool, Teddy Purcell is prepared to make a plunge at this year's camp in El Segundo, Calif.

Last September, when he arrived at the Kings' camp , Purcell was a jittery rookie, less than a year removed from college hockey and a little green around the horns.

"I'm watching some of these guys on TV and the next you know, you're skating on the same line with them," he said. "I definitely didn't feel like myself. I just wanted to go in and learn how things went."

Flip the calendar 12 months and it's a different Teddy Purcell who's touched down in LaLa Land. And we're not talking about the extra 13 pounds of meat, bringing his training camp weight to 202 pounds on a 6-3 frame.

No, Purcell's in camp with a goal of making the Kings, and judging by his rookie season in the American Hockey League and a brief audition in Los Angeles last season, there are better than even odds he just might make Terry Murray's club.

Purcell, from St. John's, was the AHL's rookie of the year last season, after scoring 25 goals and 83 points in only 67 games.

He finished third in the league's scoring race.

In between was a 10-game stint with the Kings, where he scored a goal and added two assists in 10 games.

His first NHL tally came against the Calgary Flames.

Speaking of the Flames, the trade of high-scoring Mike Cammelleri to Calgary in the off-season has opened a spot on the Kings' second line that pundits assert is Purcell's to lose.

"That's the feedback I've been getting," he said. "And the expectations I have on myself coupled with the faith L.A. has placed in me, I have to go into camp ready to compete and make sure no one takes that spot from me.

"There's a lot of pressure, but at the same time it's exciting, too."

The Kings held their medicals and physicals Thursday, with on-ice workouts starting today.

Despite just one season of NCAA hockey at the University of Maine, Purcell looked far from out of place with the Manchester Monarchs last year. And while he enjoyed his AHL stint - he recalls watching just about every St. John's Maple Leafs game at old Memorial Stadium - he's ready to wave goodbye to minor pro.

"This is a good time for me to move up and challenge myself at the next level," he said. "I feel like I'm ready, physically and mentally."

Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and the still-unsigned Patrick O'Sullivan are expected to form the Kings' first line this season, with Alexander Frolov, newcomer Jarret Stoll forming two-thirds of the second line.

The Kings have a new coach in Murray, who in the past has shown patience with youngsters. Murray helped groom Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Scottie Upshall and Braydon Coborn in Philadelphia.

"I think he's going to give me a fair chance and good opportunity to make the team," said Purcell, 23.

But first Purcell, like the others, must prove to Murray there is a commitment to defence. Last year, the Kings allowed the third-highest goal total in the NHL, behind Atlanta and Tampa Bay.

"He appreciates the skill guys around the net," Purcell said, "but he wants to cut down on those goals. He'll let you play in the offensive zone as long as you take of care of things in your own end."

Only three winters ago, Purcell was playing junior hockey in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He joined the college Black Bears in 2006-07 and won the Hockey East rookie of the year award.

But before he started putting points on the board in college, Purcell was barely noticed by NHL scouts in the USHL or even his first few games in Maine.

Towards the end of his college season, however, he was being heavily courted.

He eventually opted to leave school after one season, and signed a two-year entry level contract with Los Angeles, a deal that will pay him $850,000 US this season if he plays in the NHL.

Considering he's a free agent next summer, albeit restricted, it's another reason why a solid 2008-09 campaign is so important.

"It's funny how things happen," he said. "Two years ago, I was in Iowa. Now, I have a chance to make an NHL team. It's pretty surreal how things work out."

rshort@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Kings, American Hockey League, NHL Los Angeles Kings Calgary Flames NCAA University of Maine Manchester Monarchs Maple Leafs

Geographic location: L.A., Los Angeles, St. John's El Segundo, Calif. Calgary Cedar Rapids, Iowa Memorial Stadium Philadelphia Atlanta Tampa Bay Maine US

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Recent comments

  • shack23
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Rock and Roll TP. I'm sure you will make the team !!!!!

  • shack23
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Rock and Roll TP. I'm sure you will make the team !!!!!