Did change of scenery make the difference for former King Teddy Purcell?
Winger Teddy Purcell has become a star in the Tampa Bay Lightning's Eastern Conference playoff series against the Boston Bruins, scoring five goals in helping to carry his team to a decisive seventh game Friday night in Boston.
Kings fans can only shake their heads at his success, remembering the long droughts Purcell endured during his time with the Kings.
Purcell scored four goals in 40 games during the 2008-09 season and three in 41 games in 2009-10 before being traded to Tampa Bay with a third-round draft pick for center Jeff Halpern. The Lightning clearly got the best of that deal: Halpern left the Kings as a free agent after scoring no goals and contributing only two assists in 16 games. The Lightning drafted Brock Beukeboom with that draft pick but later traded him to St. Louis for key defenseman Eric Brewer.
I asked Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi for his thoughts on Purcell’s feats with the Lightning, but Lombardi forwarded my request to Coach Terry Murray, who was kind enough to call from his offseason home in Maine.
"I think that's always tough to answer anytime you see a player moved and he finds a way to get it done, and Teddy has fallen into that category," Murray said. "Sometimes it's a change of scenery. Sometimes it's a change of team and circumstances for a young player.
"It just didn't happen for Teddy with the L.A. Kings. There were long stretches he went without scoring -- he went 25 or 30 games between scoring goals. Sometimes it takes a change to deal with it emotionally. As an individual, you're constantly trying to push yourself. It looks like he's starting to sort that part out.
"You look at the two goals he scored [in Game 6]. One was right off a faceoff, and he took a shot that went in, and the other was on the power play from the far side. We put him in all those situations. He just wasn't able to get the job done.”
It did take Purcell a while to get to this point, and he was held out of the lineup at least once before he realized he needed to bring more intensity and consistency to his game.
"I think Teddy is certainly one of those guys that's learned a lot this year," Lightning Coach Guy Boucher told the Boston Globe. "We always knew he had the skill and always believed that he was a really good player.
“And I think he didn't know how good he was. So I think when he figured that out, he started to control the puck a lot better."
Murray said that in a case like this, "you always think maybe you could have done something different," but said he gave Purcell ample chances to produce. Purcell did have Anze Kopitar as his center sometimes and also played alongside Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds.
"He was on our power play every game," Murray said. "There was a lot of opportunity for him to find his game and important minutes, critical minutes, to do what he's doing now.
"Should we have stayed with him longer? I guess so, but we were trying to find secondary scoring. Scott Parse had the same good hands and more speed and grit to his game. ... At the end of the day, Scott Parse fit better for us, though it was unfortunate he missed the whole year with his hip labrum [injury]."
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Teddy Purcell celebrates his second period goal with Brett Clark of the Tampa Bay Lightning on May 25. Credit: Eliot J. Schechter / Getty Images.