A phone call from management doesn’t often bring good news. It’s usually to inform a player of a trade or a demotion. But in Emerson Etem’s case, the caller ID of Ducks General Manager Bob Murray might as well have glowed in neon.
Etem actually missed the initial call while sitting in his living room with his newborn son and wife in Vancouver, Canada, last week, but “I knew right away,” he said.
Etem was thrilled when Murray claimed him off the waiver wire. It meant a jump start to his young career, with the team that drafted him with fanfare in 2010.
“It was unbelievable to have a second chance in this organization,” Etem said in a phone interview from Philadelphia, where the Ducks finish a five-game trip Thursday. “For me, it’s always something special any time I can play in front of my friends and family. I had a blast when I started out there. The guys were great. It just makes the transition that much easier.”
If Etem, who hails from Long Beach, can display the hard-working attributes that made him a bottom-six forward in his first go-around with Anaheim, it will go a long way for him and the Ducks. He certainly doesn’t need any more motivation.
Traded twice in six months and placed on waivers by the Vancouver Canucks on Oct.12, Etem, 24, also is a first-time father to a son, Laulo, born Sept. 30.
“There’s a lot going on for me right now,” Etem said. “More to play for, that’s for sure.”
It’s the latest turn to a local story that has stretched across North America.
Etem was the highest-drafted Southern California born-and-trained player in Ducks history when he was chosen 29th in the 2010 draft at Staples Center. He initially thrived with his speed and forechecking but couldn’t maintain consistency and was sent to the New York Rangers in a 2015 draft-day trade that brought Carl Hagelin to the Ducks.
The Rangers traded Etem to Vancouver in January and, despite four goals in his final five games, couldn’t get more than a one-year contract extension. He was waived three days before opening night.
Etem made his Ducks debut, part 2, Tuesday, after he had skated for “an hour” total in a week’s period because of issues with his equipment arrival. He replaced left wing Mason Raymond in the lineup when Raymond was placed on waivers. Raymond cleared waivers Wednesday.
Etem might not be a regular in their lineup but he’ll make his case to stay in one organization and try to help an offense struggling during a second straight 0-3-1 start to a season.
“My goal is to create some stability,” he said. “I want to give the management and coaching staff a level of trust and accountability on every shift. They brought me back for a reason.”
DUCKS NEXT UP
When: Thursday, 4 p.m. PDT
On the air: TV: Prime; Radio: 830
Update: This is the fourth time on this trip that the Ducks will play in an opponents’ home opener. Flyers forward Michael Raffl is out because of an abdominal pull, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Anaheim has won six straight against Philadelphia, including five straight at Wells Fargo Center.