Leafs GM offered Setoguchi first step
Lamoriello reached out to give Kings forward chance when he finished rehab
If you wanted any proof small acts of kindness can have a big impact, then look no further than Devin Setoguchi’s triumphant return to the NHL and the role of Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello.
Setoguchi was coming out of rehab for alcohol addiction in the spring of 2015. He was overweight and out of shape. Yet Lamoriello called. Newly installed as the general manager in Toronto, Lamoriello offered Setoguchi a professional tryout at the Leafs’ training camp.
“After I cleaned myself up, I spoke with Lou and he was willing to give me a fair shake,” Setoguchi said. “He was always in contact. He’s a really good person, a good judge of character. For me, it was important to meet a guy like that.
“It helped me this year go to training camp (with the Kings) having been to one (with the Leafs) the year before. I have him to thank for that.”
Tryouts are long shots at best. Setoguchi didn’t make the Leafs last year. Lamoriello cut him, but early enough so he could get a job in Switzerland. It turned out for the best.
“I didn’t have a good camp,” Setoguchi said of his time with the Leafs. “I knew that. I had a couple of games and I didn’t play very well. It’s pretty simple.
“But he was straight up with me when he said: ‘We’re going to let you go now so you have an opportunity to go overseas.’ There are a lot of guys on tryouts these days that, when they’re done, the jobs overseas have filled up. (Lamoriello) did me a good solid as far as letting me go early, knowing I wasn’t going to make it, and giving me a chance to go overseas.”
Getting his life on track, and his training regimen down, helped Setoguchi land a job this season with the Kings.
“He had a good training camp,” Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said. “It’s a good story. He’s a guy you want to see do well, and he’s played very well for us. He’s for sure a fitter player and a more focused player than he would have been a year ago.”
Setoguchi scored for the first time since March1, 2014 — two goals, actually — on Saturday in L.A.’s 5-0 win over Calgary.
“It felt good,” Setoguchi said. “It’s really rewarding when the team plays really well and you can contribute. It’s a matter now of stringing it together, and continue to elevate my game.
“This is my goal from the start — to get back. I’m very thankful for the opportunity I’ve gotten with L.A. You know, it all kind of started with Lou Lamoriello when he invited me last year. I sent him a text to thank him.
“It means a lot for a guy like that to take me in, just three months out of rehab.”
Devin Setoguchi’s two goals vs. Calgary Saturday were his first in the NHL since March 1, 2014.