Tyler Halliday could have found employment elsewhere, but when the trade bell tolled, Prince George became his city of choice.
He could have been going to a contender, the dream of any 20-year-old hockey player nearing the end of his Western Hockey League career. Instead, he ended up with the team most likely to miss the WHL playoffs, the last-overall Prince George Cougars, and for Halliday, that's not such a terrible fate.
"It could have gone any way and I'm happy to be back," said Halliday.
"I know everyone here, there's no awkward surroundings, it's not an awkward time to introduce myself. The coaches know who I am and Dallas (Cougars general manager Thompson) knows who I am."
Halliday rejoined the Cougars along with a third-round bantam draft pick in 2011 in a trade deadline deal Sunday that sent defenceman Dallas Jackson to the Kelowna Rockets.
"I didn't expect it at all, but I knew Kelowna needed a D-man and that Jackson would probably be up for grabs, because he's a great 20-year-old," Halliday said. "He can put the puck in the back of the net and he's great defensively and in order for that to happen they had to sign a 20-year-old up here and it just so happened to be me."
Halliday started out on a line with Nick Buonassisi and James Dobrowolski in his first game back Wednesday, a 2-1 loss to Red Deer at home, but finished the game aligned with Brock Hirsche and Taylor Makin.
Halliday is no stranger to Cougar fans and they know what to expect from the six-foot-one, 190-pound native of Kamloops. He's the kind of right winger who is not afraid to get crunched in the corners, especially if it means setting up a teammate, and he's not adverse to dropping his gloves. Just ask Brett Lyon, the Vancouver Giants forward, who took the worst of a scrap with Halliday in the first period Friday at CN Centre.
Halliday spent one full season and 20 games as a Cougar before he was put on waivers Oct. 17 last year. The Rockets picked him up and he played 21 games, totaling four goals six assists and 38 penalty minutes. He has seven points, including three goals, in his first stint this season with the Cats.
Popular with the crowds, he's also a leader in the dressing room and was an assistant captain in Cougarville when he first parted company with the Cats three months ago. The Cougars began their two-game home set with the Vancouver Friday knowing they are 20 points out of a playoff spot, with 28 games left.
"I know I'm going to play a lot on the penalty kill and power play and I think that's going to help me develop and help these younger guys here in the future," Halliday said. "It is a longshot (that they'll make the playoffs) but you can't close the doors, you have to keep battling and you never know what can happen out there."