Leafs GM of­fered Se­toguchi first step

Lamor­iello reached out to give Kings for­ward chance when he fin­ished re­hab

Toronto Star - - SPORTS - KEVIN MCGRAN SPORTS RE­PORTER

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.

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