Teddy Purcell signs in the KHL, sets sights on Canada's Olympic team
St. John's local recently inked a deal with Russian pro-team Avangard Omsk
With the calendar creeping towards the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics a hockey player from St. John's hopes to secure a spot on Team Canada's roster.
With 10 years of NHL experience on his resume, split between the Los Angeles Kings, Tampa Bay Lightning, Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers, Teddy Purcell is edging towards living out a dream - playing for Canada in the Olympics.
"Even though the best in the world won't be playing in the Olympics," Purcell told CBC Sports.
"It's still an awesome and a good opportunity for a guy like me."
Purcell recently wore the maple leaf suiting up for Team Canada in the 2017 Karjala Cup in Finland. In three games the 32-year-old forward had an assist.
"He's pretty happy with the way things are going so far," Purcell's father, Ted Purcell, said.
"Unfortunately, because the boys have only been together for three games it's hard to get any chemistry. Teddy's been moving around. He's been on different lines every game."
The senior Purcell said there is another tournament coming up next month in Moscow and the hope is that his son will be on the team vying for a final roster spot.
"I would guess a lot of the team has probably already been picked," Purcell said.
"The team is not officially brought forward until the middle of January, I think. So Teddy's got another opportunity, hopefully, to show his wares. He's a little bit older, a bit of a leader, and he's got a lot of experience in the NHL that will help."
The younger Purcell won't have far to go if he does play in the Moscow tournament. After a tryout with the Boston Bruins ended without a contract, Purcell got a few two-way contract offers, which may have put him in the American Hockey League for some games, and would have put him at a much lower salary.
Purcell turned the contracts down because he didn't like the idea of spending time riding buses from game to game in the AHL.
Last month Avangard Omsk of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) signed the winger. Purcell reached out to former teammate, and former Avangard Omsk player, Jaromir Jagr.
"Teddy had only played with him for 15 games in Florida when he was traded from Edmonton but they became fast friends," the elder Purcell said.
"Teddy said, 'I'm not sure I am going to bother him with that.' And I said, 'go ahead, ask him'. He said it was a beautiful city and it's a first class hockey organization. He also said the women are beautiful."
With a place to play this season, Purcell can focus on getting in game shape and trying to make his Olympic dreams become a reality.
"Hopefully, I can make this team and give them something to cheer about," the younger Purcell said.
"Because you don't want to let your country down."
His father will be cheering him on.
"After he didn't make the NHL this year it was very disappointing for him, but the silver lining is that the Olympics are on the horizon and he has an opportunity to make the team," Ted Sr. said.
"If this is coming towards the end of his career, what a great way to finish."