Kings training camp questions (part 5)

5. How will the World Cup impact training camp?

Quick and general manager Dean Lombardi will be back sooner than anticipated. Team USA was eliminated from the World Cup with a loss to Canada on Tuesday in Toronto and played a meaningless round-robin finale Thursday against the Czech Republic. Doughty and Muzzin might be away for a while longer. Canada is expected to reach the championship round. Gaborik and Kopitar advanced with Team Europe and there’s no telling how far they might go after finding their game after a lackluster series of preliminary games. It’s uncertain how their absences might impact the Kings’ training camp. Avoiding injuries is on everyone’s mind during the World Cup and the Kings cannot afford a serious (or even a minor one) one to any of their top players, especially Doughty and Kopitar.

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Kings training camp questions (part 4)

4. Who is Jonathan Quick’s backup in goal this season?

Say goodbye to Jhonas Enroth and hello to Jeff Zatkoff. He is a 29-year-old who signed a two-season, $1.8-million contract during the off-season, after going 4-7-0 with a 2.79 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 14 games last season with the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. He spent most of the season playing for the Penguins’ American Hockey League team and was in need of a job at season’s end. He will serve as the third backup in as many seasons for Quick, following Enroth last season and Martin Jones in 2014-15. It’s a lonely job, but somebody’s got to do it. Enroth played only 16 games last season, going 7-5-1, and Jones appeared in only 15 in ’14-15, going 4-5-2. Enroth departed as a free agent during the off-season, signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Kings training camp questions (part 3)

3. How will a change in captaincy impact the Kings?

Dustin Brown was stripped of the Kings’ captaincy during the off-season, and he wasn’t happy about it. Kopitar was given the “C” in a leadership shakeup that was directed by team management rather than the players. Brown’s production slipped steadily in recent seasons, including in 2015-16, when he scored 11 goals and 28 points. It was the fourth consecutive season in which he failed to reach 30 points after he topped 45 points in six in a row. At times last season, he was shifted from roles on the top two lines and demoted to the fourth line. Brown sounded off about the switch during the summer, calling it “a tough pill to swallow.” Brown did not fault his teammates and said Kopitar would be “great at it” in his new role as captain. It remains to be seen whether that’s the end of the story.

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Kings training camp questions (part 2)

2. Who will earn jobs on the Kings’ third and fourth lines?

The Kings face significant questions about their scoring depth, as well. Anze Kopitar won the Selke Trophy last season as the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game after he led the Kings in scoring for the ninth consecutive season. He had 74 points, including a team-leading 49 assists. Tyler Toffoli scored a Kings-leading 31 goals, and Jeff Carter added 24. No one else on the current roster had 20 or more. In fact, no more else had more than the 15 that Tanner Pearson scored. Milan Lucic scored 20 last season, but signed with the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent in the off-season. So, where will the goals come from in 2016-17? Training camp should provide ample opportunity for some of the Kings’ top prospects to earn jobs as third- and fourth-line forwards.

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Kings training camp questions (part 1)

1. Who will fill the Kings’ many vacancies on defense?

Drew Doughty won the Norris Trophy last season as the NHL’s top defenseman, an honor many believed was a season or two or more late in coming to him. Jake Muzzin took strides last season toward becoming an elite defenseman. Rob Scuderi was acquired in order to provide depth and veteran leadership while Matt Greene was sidelined by an injury. If there’s one question about the Kings that looms above all the others going into training, it the one about their second and third pairs. As in, who is going to fill those slots? Alec Martinez is a serviceable No. 3 or 4 defenseman, as are Scuderi and Greene. Who are the No. 5 and 6 defensemen on the Kings’ depth chart? The Kings signed veteran Tom Gilbert from the Montreal Canadiens and Zach Trotman from the Boston Bruins during the off-season.

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Kings announce format for Kings vs. Kings exhibition Sunday in Ontario

The Kings will face off against the Kings in a scrimmage at 3 p.m. Sunday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. The game will feature your standard 5-on-5 format, plus 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 action. All penalties will result in penalty shots and the game will end with a shootout no matter the score. The Kings open their exhibition schedule with more traditional split-squad games Monday against the Coyotes at Staples Center and also at Glendale, Ariz.

The Kings begin training camp at 10 a.m. Friday in El Segundo.

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Kings open training camp Friday in El Segundo

Here’s the Kings’ schedule for the first three days of training camp:

Friday: Group A practice begins at 10 a.m. at the Kings’ practice facility in El Segundo (555 North Nash Street). Group B practice beings at 2 p.m.

Saturday: Group B practice begins at 10 a.m.; Group A starts at 2 p.m.

Sunday: Kings vs. Kings, Citizens Business Bank Arena, 3 p.m.

There are 64 players expected to attend camp, although some will be delayed because of their participation in the World Cup in Toronto (Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin for Canada, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik for Team Europe and Jonathan Quick for Team USA). The breakdown of the groups wasn’t announced.

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Kings’ announcer Bob Miller will be back, but with a reduced schedule for 2016-17

Tomorrow’s story tonight …

Bob Miller, the Kings’ Hall of Fame television play-by-play announcer, said Monday he would return to the broadcast booth to call his 44th season as the club celebrates its 50th campaign in the NHL, but would cut back on his travel for 2016-17.

Miller said he would call a 58-game schedule. He was sidelined for the final three months of 2015-16 after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery. He plans to work all of the Kings’ home games in 2016-17 as well as selected road games, including an Oct. 7 exhibition game in Las Vegas.

The Kings open the regular season Oct. 12 against the Sharks in San Jose, when Miller celebrates his 78th birthday. Their home-opening game is two nights later against the Philadelphia Flyers at Staples Center.

Miller’s exact schedule will be announced at a later date, the Kings said.

“After 43 seasons of doing a full schedule of home and road games, and considering I’ll be 78 years old on opening night this season, I have decide the time has come to cub back on the rigors of travel,” Miller said in a statement released by the Kings. “I am pleased and thankful that I have the complete cooperation and blessing of Kings management in this decision.”

Nick Nickson, the Kings’ Hall of Fame radio voice, moved into Miller’s chair to work the TV side, joining analyst Jim Fox, after Miller underwent a heart procedure last February. Jon Rosen, who works on the Kings’ website as their in-house reporter, handled play-by-play duties on the radio.

The Kings said they would announce their replacement teams for 2016-17 at a later date.

Miller was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2000; Nickson joined him last year.

 

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Kings training camp next stop on Devin Setoguchi’s NHL comeback attempt

The Kings haven’t made a formal announcement yet, but they’re expected to sign veteran Devin Setoguchi to a pro tryout in time for the start of training camp next week. Here’s a terrific background piece from The Hockey News on Setoguchi: http://www.thehockeynews.com/news/article/devin-setoguchi-rises-from-rock-bottom-to-earn-another-shot-at-the-nhl

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LA Kings open training camp for rookies Friday in El Segundo

The Kings’ rookie camp begins Friday at their El Segundo training facility. The first practice is scheduled for 10 a.m., and 25 players are expected to participate. The Kings said they will have the roster later in the week, but you can expect to see many of their top draft picks from the last few seasons. The Kings’ rookies play their Coyotes counterparts in exhibition games Sept. 20 and 21 in Glendale, Ariz.

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