Here’s Don’s interview with Teddy Purcell. Morning-skate reports coming soon…
Forward Teddy Purcell signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Kings last year following a very successful year at the University of Maine, where he propelled the Black Bears into the 2007 Frozen Four. Purcell, who was not drafted, currently leads the Monarchs in points with 72 (20+52).
Here, Purcell discusses the creative aspects of his game along with areas of needed improvement. He also talks about the thrill of scoring his first NHL goal, the reasons the Kings seemed like a perfect fit for him, and why a certain defenseman’s pick-up truck is frequently filled with garbage.
Q&A with Teddy Purcell
Q: First things first: Ted or Teddy?
Purcell: My dad’s name is Ted too, so Teddy just kind of translated over into the hockey season.
Q: Coach Morris mentioned that you have excellent offensive instincts and that you are very creative on the ice. Is that something that has always been a part of your game?
Purcell: I’ve always been an offensive type of player, and sometimes I look for too nice of a play, but you know growing up and just practicing every day and playing street or pond hockey as the years go by and you keep working hard I’ve just developed that offensive knack. I’ve been fortunate enough to have some success the last couple of levels and it has carried over to this level as well.
Q: There are plenty of examples of great creative players in the NHL. Do you model your game after any particular player?
Purcell: I should probably shoot the puck a little more, but I always look at the good playmakers in the NHL like Malkin on Pittsburgh or Joe Thornton. Growing up I always liked Teemu Selanne because he is a right shot and he is more of a scorer than a passer. I like seeing guys like that and take little things from their game and transfer it to my game.
Q: Coach also mentioned that you are working some aspects of your game like fore-checking and defense. How do you feel those parts of your game are coming along?
Purcell: It is going well and I know coming into the season that I had to work on those things. They made it clear before I signed with them that those were things I had to work on, so it wasn’t anything new with me. I knew I needed to work hard and concentrate on play away from the puck and that’s exactly right. When I don’t have the puck they want me to round-out my game a little bit. I’m trying to work harder every game and not be so concerned when I don’t have the puck. I’m trying to get in there on the fore-check more so than I was at the beginning of the year and I think my back-checking has come a long way. It’s all about putting pressure on the other team and knowing where the other players are and not being a liability on the ice. I’d like to think I’ve come a long ways.
Q: Talk a little bit about your two call-ups and the 10 games with the Kings.
Purcell: The first call-up was when the team was in Canada, so to start your first three games in western Canada with the CBC and TSN, it was a dream come true. I couldn’t believe it, but I felt pretty comfortable. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the team made me feel comfortable and a part of the team. Most of the time I played with two veterans in Calder and Handzus so that made it that much easier. I obviously didn’t play the same type of game I play here; I just mostly went out and tried to not make mistakes. The second time around and played Calgary and I ended up scoring and that was a thrill. I had to pinch myself a few times.
Q: Where’s that puck?
Purcell: (Laughs). I actually haven’t seen it. The guys said they were going to have a plaque made or something. I’ve got my first (NHL) point puck in my locker, but I haven’t seen the first goal in a while.
Q: Did you get a sense of the different coaching styles between coach Morris and Marc Crawford?
Purcell: The biggest difference was the size of the coaching staff. There was more hands-on at the NHL level because there were more guys who could pay attention to you. Both guys are very emotional guys and they have good attitudes. All they want to do is win. Down here it is really all about development and up there it is all business.
Q: How did you personally deal with not being drafted?
Purcell: Every kid dreams about being drafted and I was obviously disappointed with not getting drafted. Seeing my friends getting drafted and me not was pretty tough, but at the same time I didn’t dwell on it, I just went out and worked hard. Then last year I went through the process of talking to players and teams and that was a pretty amazing experience. In talking to a lot of my friends they reminded me that most guys don’t get to become free agents until they are 26 or 27 and at the end of the day it worked out good for me because I got to pick the organization that was the right fit for me. It ended up being a pretty neat experience and something I will always remember.
Q: What stood out about the Kings in your mind?
Purcell: There were a bunch of different factors. Being down near the bottom of the league the last few years, they have been giving a lot of guys a chance, but that certainly wasn’t the main reason. They were just consistent all year around. I felt that they were very honest with me, and not just one person in the organization, but the whole organization. They got to know me inside-out, as a person and a player. I just had a feeling one morning that I just had to be there, and I’m really happy with the decision that I made.
Q: What do you and your teammates do for fun?
Purcell: We just like to hang out, check out a movie, maybe go to a few restaurants. Maybe play a few pranks on each other.
Q: Okay, you opened that door: Who is the major prankster on the team?
Purcell: We have a couple of the older guys, maybe Gabe Gauthier or Petr Kanko, and we like to prank Drew Bagnall quite a bit.
Q: Can you tell us about a recent funny prank?
Purcell: Drew’s got a pick-up truck so we’ll go around collecting garbage and throw it and some scraps in the back of the truck. So whenever he is driving around on the highway it’s either falling out or it’s rattling around, so he’s got to take the time to stop and pick up all the garbage. We never do anything too over-the-top, just some fun stuff to keep everyone loose.