Don’t say you weren’t warned. Traffic around the Honda Center and the Big A is likely to be horrendous Friday, with the Ducks and Kings facing off on one side of the 57 Freeway at the same 7 p.m. start time as the Angels and Mariners on the other side of the road. Give yourself some extra time arriving and departing. Don’t get Orange Crushed.
Pivotal player: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty played 29 minutes, 5 seconds in a 3-2 overtime victory Tuesday over the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center. So much for the Kings cutting his ice time down this season. Doughty said he hoped to average 24 minutes in 2015-16.
Key moment: Jordan Weal deflected a shot into the back of the net at 3:37 of the 3-on-3 overtime period to give the Kings their second victory over the Coyotes in as many exhibitions. Christian Ehrhoff took the shot, but Weal cruised in front and tipped it into the net.
In goal: Jhonas Enroth started in goal for the Kings, making his first appearance for the club after signing as a free agent July 1. He faced only eight shots while playing 32:31. He is expected to serve as Jonathan Quick’s backup when the regular season begins Oct. 7.
Roster moves: The Kings returned eight players to their junior-level teams and released three other players from their pro tryouts. Forwards Michael Amadio, Jake Marchment, Matthew Mistele, Matt Schmalz, Austin Wagner and Spencer Watson and defensemen Jacob Middleton and Chaz Reddekopp were went back to their junior teams. Goalie Jack Flinn, forward Samuel Laberge and defenseman Jered Walsh were released.
Next: The Kings face the Ducks at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Honda Center.
After the domestic violence arrest of Slava Voynov last October and drug busts of Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards during the off-season, the Kings on Monday announced several new training and awareness programs aimed at improving off-ice conduct.
“During the past year, we have been extremely diligent in developing an educational strategy and comprehensive programs in an effort to ensure that the troubling incidents that occurred last season are not repeated,” Dan Beckerman, chief executive of the Kings’ parent company, AEG, said in a statement. “We have conducted research, gathered information and forged partnerships that will better prepare our players and staff for challenges that could impact their behavior away from the workplace.”
The Kings announced a partnership with Peace Over Violence, a Los Angeles-based violence prevention center. In addition, the team said it hired former NHL player Brantt Myhres to a newly-created player assistance position, focusing on the challenges of addiction and substance abuse.
Chris Herren, a former NBA player who founded the Herren Project, will speak to the team about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. The team also will undergo sexual harassment training and complete a conduct awareness program.
“These programs are now part of the development process for all of our players,” Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said in a statement. “No longer can we solely focus on their growth and education as just hockey players. We need to give them the tools to thrive as people as well.”
Lombardi is schedule to speak further on the subject when he meets with reporters before Tuesday’s exhibition against the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center.
Anze Kopitar is entering the final year of his contract with the Kings, and if all goes as expected, he should receive a new deal sooner rather than later. The question is, when? Talks have produced nothing so far, with training camp underway Friday and the regular season set to begin Oct. 7. If he was feeling stressed about playing out the final year of his current deal, with a $6.8-million cap hit for 2015-16, Kopitar wasn’t showing it after his first practice with his teammates.
“You don’t think about it too much,” he said. “I’ve said it all along, it’d be nice if it was done before the season. But if it’s not, it’s really not that big of a deal. There’s still plenty of time left in that regard, too. So, we’ll see what happens.”
Asked if he’s open to continuing negotiations after the season begins, he said, “Actually, I haven’t thought about that yet. I don’t know.”
When asked whether he has an idea of what he would like in his new contract, he said, “We’ve got discussions, obviously. My agent (Pat Brisson) tells me everything that’s going on. There’s my input in there, too. It’s a two-way street.”
The Kings’ training camp begins Friday.
Here’s more information:
The Kings begin their training camp Friday at 9:30 a.m. at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. The roster will be broken into three groups with Group A skating at 9:30 and Groups B and C practicing at 1 p.m. The schedule is essentially the same for Saturday and Sunday’s practices, which are free and open to the public.
The Toyota Sports Center is located at 555 N. Nash Street, El Segundo.
There is free parking available in the adjacent lot.
Here’s what the Kings had to say:
“On July 2, Slava Voynov entered a plea of no contest to domestic violence. Since that development, Mr. Voynov has been in the custody of the Seal Beach Detention Center and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. During this period of detention, the Los Angeles Kings decided he would no longer play for the team. The method by which we would ensure this outcome was something we carefully considered and we established a deadline of September 17 – the beginning of our 2015-16 training camp – to reach this outcome. Recently it became evident to us that our conclusion to this process would be to terminate Mr. Voynov’s Standard Player’s Contract. However, Mr. Voynov’s announcement today of his intention to leave the United States and return to Russia makes the termination unnecessary.
“As we have publicly stated since Mr. Voynov’s arrest last year, the Kings organization will not tolerate domestic violence. As part of that commitment, we will soon announce a series of new Conduct Awareness Training Initiatives that reflect the values and principles central to our franchise.”