TAMPA — Teddy Purcell missed a late Sunday phone call from Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman late Sunday night. By the time he checked his phone, there was also a text message from Yzerman that came in just after the phone call.
“I knew something was up,’’ Purcell said.
Nate Thompson was sitting at home checking his phone, trying to catch up on the deal that sent Purcell to Edmonton, when Thompson’s phone rang and Yzerman was on the other end.
Both Lightning forwards found out within an hour of each other that they were on the way out of Tampa, with Thompson moved to Anaheim for a fourth- and seventh-round draft pick in 2015. Each was under contract for at least two more seasons and each recently signed extensions expecting to remain as part of the Lightning core.
Instead they were moved off the roster, allowing Tampa Bay to open salary cap space ahead of the start of free agency Tuesday.
“I was pretty shocked, to be honest,’’ Purcell said. “It’s tough. It’s part of the business, we know that side well enough. Me and Nate have been here for five years together. This year, for whatever reason, we didn’t fit in and find our groove like we had the past couple of years. Then all of a sudden things change quickly and you are gone.’’
Thompson, who signed a four-year extension prior to the 2013 trade deadline, served as an alternate captain last season and is a versatile lower line center who wins faceoff and kills penalties. After signing his extension, he called Tampa his second home.
“I was in shock, overwhelmed and a lot of emotions all in one,’’ Thompson said. “There is a feeling of bittersweet because I feel that Tampa really helped me establish myself as a solid NHL player. The opportunity that Steve gave me and the coaches there, they really gave me the opportunity to be the player that I am now. I can’t thank Steve and everyone that is part of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization enough for everything they did for me and my family. They hold a special place in my heart and I consider it a home. It’s sad to leave, but on the other side it’s exciting, too, starting a new chapter.’’
Purcell, who is coming off a disappointing 12-goal, 42-point season, also found his game with the Lightning after being acquired from Los Angeles, where he was a frequent health scratch. But he understands why he was selected as one of the players moved for Yzerman to move forward with his plan for the team.
“Steve is obviously a very smart hockey man and he has a plan. We know he needs a backup goalie and a couple of defensemen, too,’’ Purcell said. “It’s all part of a plan, and it just happens to be I was caught with a salary that can be moved and help out the team.’’