COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It started out as a regular Thanksgiving Day in the NHL for Corey Tropp. But one phone call quickly changed that.
Shortly after noon, Tropp's cell phone rang and it was Pat LaFontaine - Buffalo Sabres legend and currently their president of hockey operations - on the other end. LaFontaine informed Tropp that he would not be reporting to the Sabres' AHL affiliate in Rochester (where they had hoped he'd end up after clearing waivers), but instead, he'd been claimed by the Blue Jackets.
And just like that, things sped into high gear.
Tropp then talked to the Blue Jackets, who got him set up for a late afternoon arrival in Columbus. Tropp packed up his car with everything he thought he would need for the time being and set out on the six-hour drive from Buffalo with "nothing but the open road and a lot of time to think," he said.
"It's exciting and this is a great opportunity for me," Tropp told BlueJackets.com. "I think the best way to do it is just get in there and get my feet wet and that's what I'll do. To know that the Blue Jackets were interested in me and wanted to bring me in, that's a good feeling and any positive feedback you get in this league is a good thing. Compliments are given to you in this league, you have to earn them...I'm really looking forward to joining Columbus."
The Blue Jackets - namely GM Jarmo Kekalainen - have long had an interest in Tropp dating back to his draft year in 2007. When Kekalainen was the assistant GM for the St. Louis Blues, he said they took a long look at Tropp and he admired his competitiveness and thought he had a lot of upside.
Though Tropp only played 6:35 in his Blue Jackets debut on Friday night, he made a nice play to set up Jack Skille's goal and displayed the energy and grit in a couple of physical shifts with Skille and Michael Chaput.
When the opportunity to add such a player came along via the waiver wire, Kekalainen was convinced Tropp could help the Blue Jackets now just now, but also down the road.
"We're trying to improve our hockey team and that's our main focus here," Kekalainen told BlueJackets.com. "This was a guy that came along on the waiver wire that we felt would give us help now that we need with all injuries, and he also has potential to stick here long term.
"I've liked him since he was drafted, and then played in the USHL and then for Michigan State. He had a good start to his pro career and we're happy we could add him to our group."
Tropp has had some tough luck with injuries (major knee surgery a year ago caused him to miss significant time, and he suffered a broken jaw in September) but he said he's feeling much better, and wants to display some of that upside that Kekalainen and coach Todd Richards referred to in the past 24 hours.
And given the situation in Buffalo this season, Tropp said he felt a move like this was in play, but he's happy to land where he did.
"I think there's more to my game (than shown to this point)," Tropp said. "It's no secret what's happening in Buffalo...a lot of changes, people coming in and out. I think there are a lot of guys sitting there not sure about what's going to happen. It's always shocking to get the phone call that you're going somewhere else, but I was definitely excited about it.
"I have some grit, hard work but I can also make plays. I can definitely get down low, make plays and get to the front of the net and get into the dirty areas."