Former Walleye Kyle Page.
Calling it the most difficult player transaction he has ever had to make, Walleye coach Nick Vitucci traded fan favorite Kyle Page on Tuesday.
Page, a 25-year-old defenseman, started his pro career in Toledo at the end of the 2009-10 season after playing four years at Bowling Green State University. Page, an assistant captain last season, has played in the third most Walleye games (141) in franchise history.
Page was traded to Kalamazoo in exchange for future considerations.
"That was without a doubt the hardest phone call I've ever had to make," Vitucci said. "He's just a very good hockey player. And he's a great person. He's been with me for parts of three years. I think the world of him. It was a tough transaction."
Vitucci said the move was necessary because the roster that he is putting together includes too many defensemen whose style of play is similar to that of Page.
"With some of the veteran defensemen we have now, we have too many players that are similar to Kyle but with a bit more grit," Vitucci said. "We have a lot of small, skilled-type defensemen."
In a poll of fans conducted last season by The Blade, Page came in second behind forward Riley Emmerson for their favorite. Page received 1,497 votes.
Page, who had five goals and 27 assists in two-plus seasons with the Walleye, said he was surprised when Vitucci called him with the news.
"It was a little shocking at first," Page said. "But once you get over that, you understand the business side of things. You see it all of the time. But to experience it first hand it is something new. But I accept it. There are no hard feelings. We ended on good terms. I look forward to a new challenge."
Vitucci said recently acquired defenseman Wes O'Neill, who was Kalamazoo's captain last season, is a lot like Page. Other defensemen including Cody Lampl and David Walker also are similar.
"They have good vision with a good skill set," Vitucci said. "They have good vision. I just felt we couldn't have too many of the same player."
Page played at BG from 2006-10 and was named the Falcons' top defensive player three consecutive seasons. Page fought through a concussion, broken nose, and injured shoulder last season.
Vitucci said he "felt terrible" about the move so he told Page he could decide where he wanted to be sent.
Page, who resides in Wixom, Mich., said he has family from the west side of Michigan and that he is familiar with the K-Wings, a North Division rival of the Walleye.
"We played them a hundred times so there is some familiarity there," Page said. "They wanted me on their squad. So Nick did me a solid."
Page said he saw many of the same fans at Walleye and BGSU games. Page trails only Evan Rankin (143) and Kyle Rogers (142) for most games played in Walleye uniform.
"I spent my young adult life in northwest Ohio and the fans have been good to me and I appreciate that," he said.
Page said he is looking forward to opening the season at the Huntington Center when his new Kalamazoo team plays the Walleye on Oct. 13. He said he wanted to be in the building when the team honors Walleye defenseman Bryan Rufenach, who passed away this summer.
"Things will be a weird being on the other bench." Page said. "I'm happy I'll be there for the ceremony. It will be emotional."
The team also traded defenseman Paul Cianfrini to Wheeling on Tuesday for future considerations. Cianfrini signed with Toledo at the midpoint of last season after finishing his college career in Canada. In 17 games with the Walleye, Cianfrini scored a goal and collected an assist.
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.