Standing around the locker room on Wednesday, taping his hockey stick, Teddy Purcell learned via television he needed to pack his bags.
Purcell was in the locker room in Nashville preparing for an afternoon practice with the Los Angeles Kings when a report flashed on the screen that the Kings had acquired veteran center Jeff Halpern, and the return to the Tampa Bay Lightning included the 24-year-old Purcell.
"When we saw the report the Kings had picked up Halpern, we assumed it was for a draft pick, then they came back a few minutes later saying they had more info on the trade and that I was traded,'' Purcell said after the Lightning's morning skate Thursday in Washington. "It was a little strange. It's the first time I've ever been traded, and it was a little awkward at first being there with all the guys. But then we started joking about it and had a good laugh.''
Purcell joined the team in Washington late Wednesday night, arriving at the team hotel around 11:30 p.m. after his initial flight was cancelled. By Thursday morning, he was on the ice with his new teammates preparing to take on the Eastern Conference leading Capitals.
It was undetermined after the morning skate who Purcell will skate with - Coach Rick Tocchet said those discussions were still taking place - but Purcell is considered a skilled forward, so it makes sense he will get a crack at playing on a line with captain Vinny Lecavalier and Ryan Malone.
"I'm just really excited to be here," said Purcell, who has eight goals and 25 points in 91 career NHL games. "I'm not sure who I'm playing with right now, but I'll play with anybody they tell me.''
Getting a feel for somebody after a 30-minute skate is near impossible, but Tocchet saw some of Purcell's skill level in the short period of time. Tocchet doesn't intend to inundate Purcell with a ton of information heading into Thursday night's game.
"He has a good shot, you can see that right away, but we don't want to feed him too much, maybe give him some neutral zone stuff,'' Tocchet said. "I was traded a million times, so I know the last thing you want is to get to a new team having your head so full of information that you are exhausted by the time you get on the ice. So, you want to give him some information, let him know where he needs to be in certain situations, but you don't want to give him too much.''
While Purcell and Lecavalier never met prior to Thursday morning, the two share a close bond.
Both Lecavalier (1995-96) and Purcell (2003-04) attended Notre Dame Academy prep school in Wilcox, Sascatchewan, a small school at which the student population outnumbers the locals by a two-to-one ratio. And as far as Lecavalier is concerned, there is plenty for the two to talk about.
"I didn't realize he went there, we can definitely share some stories now,'' Lecavalier said. "There is definitely a bond with anybody who has gone to there. There are still a lot of the same people working at the school and we can talk about the different dorms and stuff like that. It's a pretty special school.''
Purcell didn't realize how small the Wilcox community was - the year-round population of the town is roughly 300 - until he took a ride from the airport to the school.
"The first day I arrived there, I was picked up from the airport and I had a pair of roller blades with me, and the driver asked me what I was going to do once I got to the school," Purcell said. "I told him maybe I'd just go out and roller blade around town and get a chance to see what's there. He told me I couldn't do that, and when I asked him why not, he informed me that there are no paved roads in the town.''
Injured defenseman Matt Walker took part in the full morning skate on Thursday, but will miss a consecutive game with an undisclosed lower-body injury.
"I thought he looked pretty good out there, but he's got to get some full skates in before he's ready,'' Tocchet said.