Thursday’s training camp report …
The Kings haven’t spent hours looking at DVDs of the Chicago Blackhawks, their opponent in their lockout-delayed season opener Saturday afternoon at Staples Center. Actually, the Kings haven’t really given the Blackhawks much thought, according to coach Darryl Sutter.
“I’ve coached against Joel for a long time,” Sutter said after Thursday morning’s practice at the Kings’ El Segundo training facility. “We know what to expect. It’s not like some deep, dark secret. I know a lot about those guys. They’re a good hockey team.”
Sutter referred to Joel Quenneville, coach of the Blackhawks and a longtime coaching foe.
There have been plenty of other items for Sutter to check off his training camp to-do list. Worrying about the Blackhawks hasn’t been one of them. Worrying about the Kings? Yes, no question. But fretting about the opposition? Nope. No time for it during a week-long camp.
In fact, this training camp has been something akin to sailing through uncharted waters with a malfunctioning rudder, with Sutter admitting he’s actually stopped the workouts on occasion in order to ask his players if he’s dedicated too much or too little time to a certain drill.
The only thing Sutter could compare this lockout-shortened camp to in his coaching experience was the lockout-shortened camp in 1994-95, when he was the coach of the Blackhawks. And, he added without hesitation, there really is no comparison between the two.
“I thought timing would be a big thing,” Sutter said of the players’ rapid adjustment to the speed of the practices after some played in Europe during the lockout and others practiced in small groups in El Segundo and elsewhere. “It’s not an issue. They’re spot on.”
Injuries and an crowded early-morning schedule Saturday were all that concerned Sutter some 48 hours before the opening faceoff.
Defenseman Willie Mitchell, a vital member of the Kings’ suffocating blue-line corps during the playoffs, won’t play after undergoing knee surgery almost two months ago. Mitchell hasn’t skated during camp and has performed only off-ice rehabilitation exercises, Sutter said.
Jonathan Quick, a goaltender who was the MVP of the playoffs last spring, underwent offseason back surgery, but you wouldn’t know it by watching him during practice. He’s sound and ready to play a key role for the Kings starting Saturday, according to Sutter.
As for Saturday’s schedule of events, well, let’s say Sutter isn’t pleased about early start. The Stanley Cup banner ceremony is set for noon, with the opening faceoff to follow at 12:30 p.m., which means the players, coaches and staff must be at Staples Center by 10 a.m.
Left wing Dustin Penner didn’t participate in the workout because of “an appointment he had and couldn’t get out of it, not a big deal” Sutter explained. It was something scheduled well before the end of the lockout and not medical related.