Amongst all the younger faces and names in the Boston Bruins preseason lineups, 32-year-old Teddy Purcell sticks out like a sore thumb.
Purcell is attending the Bruins training camp on a PTO, holding some value as a winger with veteran experience in comparison to the plethora of young players the Bruins are currently looking at. A guy who has never worn the Spoked-B before, Purcell was invited to training camp just days before the camp opened – just days before star winger, David Pastrnak, was under contract and in the country.
While Pastrnak is now back in the Black and Gold for six more years, filling a possible void on the wing, and Purcell is skating alongside players that are 10 years younger than him, the UMaine alumni is hoping to find hockey redemption and a roster spot with the Boston Bruins over the next few weeks.
Purcell has played for clubs in three of the four corners of North America (and here he is, now, at his fourth). Undrafted, Purcell played for the Los Angeles Kings, shifting between the NHL and their AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, before being traded after two seasons to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Purcell played five seasons in Tampa Bay, earning 51 points in his first full season alone. In 2014, Purcell was traded to the Edmonton Oilers for Sam Gagner (who was then sent immediately to Arizona for a sixth-round pick), and spent two years there before playing a season each with the Florida Panthers and his original club, respectively. His last few years tumbled downwards quickly; he finished last season with the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ new affiliate, once he was sent down from LA after 12 games. Now on the northeastern coast, Purcell eyes NHL play once more.
On Tuesday the Bruins had their second preseason game, the first at home, and Purcell was one of just three veteran NHL forwards in the lineup. He was placed on the third line with Austin Czarnik and Danton Heinen, and all three of them saw the back of the net that night. Purcell had the final goal of the 4-2 win against Detroit, with just 2:46 left in the game, when Czarnik passed to him through the high slot over the blue line and Purcell ripped a one-timer from the top circle, past goaltender Petr Mrazek, to solidify the win.
He also did see more veteran linemates during training camp, when he was placed with Matt Beleskey and Ryan Spooner during the first few days. While rookie Anders Bjork was skating in that place Monday night against the Canadiens, Bruce Cassidy made it clear that Bjork won’t stay there forever, making it a possibility that Purcell could be put back on that line.
But in order to get there, Purcell needs to prove himself—along with tapping into the skills he exhibited in his time in Tampa, the right winger needs to prove that he’s a more reliable choice than the younger players. Only then will he have the chance to consistently play NHL hockey once again.