With Keaton Ellerby joining the Winnipeg Jets on waivers and Jeff Carter being placed on injured reserve, forwards Tyler Toffoli and Linden Vey have been called up from AHL-Manchester. This news is now official.
First, let us piece together the timeline of how they heard the news, and their challenges in getting to Los Angeles.
Manchester, N.H. Thursday evening
Linden Vey: “Dean called me and said to meet in half an hour. I couldn’t get a hold of Toff. He was sleeping. I probably called him five, six, seven times. I finally got a hold of him. We met at the rink and obviously were pretty excited that we were both going up.”
Manchester, N.H. Thursday evening, after waking up from a nap
Tyler Toffoli: “I rolled over and had all the missed calls, and then I saw it was Veysey. I was confused, and then I had a 310 number. It was Dean calling. I didn’t have his number in my phone. I didn’t really know what to expect, and then once he picked us up, we were just trying to go through our heads and see what we did wrong for Dean to have this meeting with us. Fortunately it was a good meeting for us.”
Verizon Wireless Arena, later Thursday evening
Toffoli: “Yeah, we got there, and like I said, I took a nap, and I was half asleep on the way there, and nervous, and excited too, because obviously in the back of your head you want to be called up. Luckily, Dean, the first thing he said was that we were going up. So it kind of made the rest of the meeting a little easier.”
Vey: “It was only about 15, 20 minutes, so it was actually a short one. I’ve had some long ones with him, but that one was a lot better.”
Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, Friday morning
Vey: “We were at the airport at six o’clock yesterday. We didn’t get out the first time, and we ended up going back to my place, and back again at 11 o’clock. [It was] canceled again, and then we ended up going to Boston and flying out of there. It was a long day, but we’re excited to be here, obviously.”
Considering the challenges of getting in and out of LAX yesterday, the two flew through Chicago into Orange County and drove north on the 405 long after rush hour had subsided.
With minimal travel lag, they spoke with the media at Saturday’s morning skate about the opportunity presented, and their excitement in joining the Kings.
Tyler Toffoli, on how he treated the first month of the season in Manchester:
Just to get back into it. Obviously, the beginning of the year is the hardest part, almost – besides playoffs. You have to get your body going again. I just wanted to go down and continue where I left off last year. Just build off what I did.
Toffoli, on whether he has any expectations for his current opportunity:
No, just play well and be a good teammate and do whatever I have to do to help the team win. Whatever that means, I’m going to try my best.
Toffoli, on Linden Vey being on the verge of making his NHL debut:
Yeah, he’s excited. I think that he’s in the same position that I was in last year. Hopefully he gets in and he does well. He definitely deserves it.
Toffoli, on whether it was difficult to be assigned to Manchester after training camp:
Obviously, but at the same time you have to perform and deserve to be up here. Luckily, it was a pretty good start to the season. The whole team’s doing well in Manch. It was good. Obviously it’s a good feeling being back here.
Toffoli, on Manchester’s success to start the season:
We read somewhere it was the best start that it’s the best start for us in Manch in a while, so it’s good for us.
Linden Vey, on making an NHL roster:
Obviously you never wish for any injuries, but that’s sometimes the only way you can get an opportunity. Especially with the Kings – they’ve got such a great team. [There’s] so much depth it’s hard to make your way onto their roster. But there’s an opportunity here, and hopefully we can make the most of it.
Vey, on the attitude he took to training camp:
We had a meeting before we left, and he said the same thing to all three of us – we’ve got to make sure not to pout. We’ve got to make the most of it, and there are things we need to work on and improve on. We went down there, and our team got off to a really good start, and obviously they’re still going, as they won last night again.
Vey, on having Dean Lombardi and hockey operations in Manchester last week:
Part of being a professional, I think your job is to be playing every game, and you’ve got to be consistent. But I think when the GM’s in town, I think the practices are a little bit more intense, and…he’s the guy who has the majority of the say of who plays on their team, so obviously, the tempo’s a little bit higher.
Vey, on whether Tyler Toffoli told him what to expect:
A little bit. I think growing up, you want to play here, and you watch a lot of hockey games. He’s definitely a guy that has been through a bit, especially getting called up a couple of times last year, and I think the hardest thing is finding your spot…He said, ‘Just play your game, and don’t kind of get away from that.’ I think you’ve got here on the way you play, and you can’t be trying to change it.
Darryl Sutter also shared his thoughts on Vey and Toffoli.
Darryl Sutter, on whether he expects Toffoli and Vey to build off their training camps:
No, neither one had specifically good training camps, did they?
Sutter, on Tyler Toffoli “coming back”:
I don’t really look at it like he’s coming back. I thought he played really well for us in two series last year – in the San Jose and Chicago series. When Mike was out, we moved Carter to center and Penner to left and Toffoli to right, he played well for us. He didn’t have a really good training camp…Even if we’d have had training camp, he didn’t make it out of training camp. So he went down there, and scored seven goals in 10 games. So now we find out if he can play the 200-foot game while Jeff Carter’s out.
Sutter, on whether Toffoli improved as camp progressed:
We put too much pressure as an organization on those players to play on the team when they’re just boys. There’s nothing that makes Tyler any different than anybody else, other than he’s 21-years-old. It’s not like we’re a last place team. It’s not like we have a division title clinched. He’s trying to play on a good team, and that’s just not that easy.
Sutter, on the natural excitement associated with young, intriguing prospects:
We should get excited about all these boys. Tanner, Linden, Tyler, Andy, Sabourin – you should get excited about ‘em. But they’re boys. Just let ‘em take baby steps. If you expect them to take a big step, then you’re not being fair to the player.
Sutter, on how Tanner Pearson handled not receiving the call-up by scoring 25 seconds into Manchester’s win over Providence last night:
Well, that doesn’t mean that Tanner can’t get called up tomorrow, and those boys can’t go back down. We play one game in seven days. I’m not too caught up in anything other than tonight. We’re looking for Tyler Toffoli to give us a little bit of Carter’s minutes.
During line rushes this morning, Toffoli skated at right wing, opposite Daniel Carcillo, on a line centered by Mike Richards. Linden Vey was part of a consortium that also included Kyle Clifford, Colin Fraser, Matt Frattin and Jordan Nolan.