Teddy Purcell was here once before. It was six years ago, but it seems as if it was only yesterday. The Kings’ training facility is the same now, but different. Many of the faces are familiar, making his homecoming all the more comfortable, the transition to a new team far easier.
“The weight room has a retractable roof now,” Purcell said Saturday after the first of two practice sessions at the Kings’ workout facility. “It’s almost funny when you hear about it, especially when you come from Edmonton and your car doesn’t start when you leave the rink.”
No sub-zero temperatures are in the forecast in Southern California, where summer seems to go on and on. Old friends such as Trevor Lewis and Alec Martinez helped get Purcell settled and re-acclimated to the land of year-round sun and perpetually warm weather.
“I bought a beach cruiser,” Purcell said, smiling.
The Kings signed the 30-year-old Purcell to a one-season, $1.6-million contract after the departure July 1 of Milan Lucic, who signed a seven-year, $42-million contract with the Edmonton Oilers during the off-season, a deal the Kings could not afford in match in salary or duration.
Purcell began his NHL career with the Kings in 2007-08, signing as a free agent after one standout season at the University of Maine, and spent parts of three seasons with them before they traded him to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010. He’s also played with Edmonton and Florida.
Now he’s back, trying to secure a place on the Kings’ third or fourth lines while providing some much-needed scoring depth for a team that’s sound on its first two lines in that department, but seriously lacking in firepower beyond its top six forwards.
Purcell scored 14 goals and 43 points in 76 games last season, playing 15 of his final 76 games with the Panthers after a trade from the Oilers. Overall, he has 101 goals and 305 points in 559 games in nine seasons in the NHL.
Purcell isn’t sure where Kings coach Darryl Sutter might play him.
“I think it’s too early,” Purcell said. “That kind of stuff will take care of itself. (But) anybody would be lying if they said they didn’t like to play with guys like (Jeff) Carter and (Anze) Kopitar. If I take care of my stuff, it’ll work out and we’ll go from there.”
Purcell said he wants to make a good first impression during his second stint with the Kings.
“The first thing for me is I’ve got to gain the coaches’ trust,” he said. “I’ve got to show I’m responsible away from the puck. It kind of sounds selfish, but if you do well and gain their trust, they’re going to slot you into positions to succeed.
“We talked about some stuff in the the summer, but it changes almost daily at training camp. When I was younger, you kind of analyze it and beat yourself to death and not sleep over it, but as an older guy you just kind of go out and take care of your own business.”