BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s going to take a few things to fall into place, but NHL veteran winger and former University of Maine star Teddy Purcell is hoping that he comes away with an NHL job in Boston at the end of training camp.
The 32-year-old Purcell found himself in the AHL for the bulk of last season after eight straight seasons in the NHL, including a five-year stint in Tampa Bay where in his best season he finished with 24 goals and 65 points in 2011-12. Now he’s with the Bruins on a PTO tryout agreement for training camp where he can lend a bit of an experienced hand on the wing just in case things don’t pan out with younger Bruins prospects like Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen among others.
Purcell has been skating at right wing along with Matt Beleskey and Ryan Spooner in the first couple of days in Bruins training camp, and is just trying to keep things simple as one of a growing number of NHL veterans looking for employment.
‘I know I have my work cut out for me, but hopefully I’ll get put in a good spot to show them what I can. . . and then work hard and hope for the best,” said the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Purcell, who had two assists in 12 games with the LA Kings last season to go along with 10 goals and 38 points in 38 games for the AHL’s Ontario Reign. “There’s a lot of things you could blame [for the career downturn], but you’ve just got to be better yourself as a player. You can also say you could work harder or in hindsight make different decisions about where you signed and stuff, but when it comes down to it you need to be better as a player. I worked hard this summer, and hopefully I can come in and make an impression on the guys [in management] upstairs.”
Purcell said the tryout with the B’s came together just a couple of days before the opening of training, so perhaps the former Kings, Lightning, Oilers and Panthers forward was insurance just in case the Pastrnak holdout became a thing during camp. Either way, Purcell has walked into a situation with Boston where a couple of top-6 winger spots are currently open for competition, and much of the competition is lacking the experience Purcell brings to the table with nearly 600 career games in the NHL.
So it stands to reason that Purcell actually walked into a pretty good opportunity to win a job if injuries or rookie jitters become a factor up front for the Bruins. Just as Drew Stafford came in at last spring’s trade deadline and made an impact in Boston after a down period in Winnipeg, Purcell hopes to do the same kind of career resuscitation in Boston.
“It happened pretty quickly, and as an older guy I don’t know a whole lot about the younger guys coming up,” said Purcell. “I’ve heard there are some good players there and they’re going to be hungry for spots, and management probably knows them a little better than they know me. But as an older guy, you just have to come in with confidence. I’ve played on a lot of good teams with good players, and I’ve played up and down the lineup.
“There are good players here too, so it won’t be anything too new for me. I just need to go out and play my own game, and try to impress those guys [making the decisions].”
Purcell still had enough in the tank to put up 14 goals and 43 points between Edmonton and Florida a couple of years ago, so there’s clearly still some offensive ability there if the Bruins decide they want to go with a little more experience.