Kings homecoming (part 2): Jeff Zatkoff says he’s where he wants to be after free-agent signing

Jeff Zatkoff knew what he was getting into when he signed a two-season, $1.8-million contract last summer. He understood the job description called for long, thankless hours of hard work during the day followed by extended periods of inactivity during the evening.

Zatkoff took the plunge anyway.

The opportunity was too good to pass up.

Plus, he had a connection to the Kings, who drafted him in the third round (74th overall) in 2006. Goaltending coach Bill Ranford tutored him, mentored him, but couldn’t offer him a single appearance in an NHL game before losing him to the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent in 2012.

Zatkoff returned to the Kings as a free agent July 1, after a four-year absence.

“I had interest from other teams, but at the end of the day, this is where I wanted to be,” said Zatkoff, who was 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 Penguins.

Zatkoff, 29, isn’t likely to play very many games with the Kings this season. If all goes as planned, Jonathan Quick will play and Zatkoff will sit on the bench. Zatkoff also will work his tail off after practice in case something goes awry with his more accomplished and heralded teammate.

Quick’s backups normally play only a handful of games each season. Jhonas Enroth played 16 games last season and Martin Jones appeared in 15 in 2014-15. Enroth departed as a free agent during the off-season; Jones was traded in the summer of ’15.

“I think you know the situation when you come to L.A.,” Zatkoff said. “You want to play as many games as you can, but at the same time you’re playing behind arguably the best goalie in the league, one of them, anyway. That’s part of the job here.

“You’ve got be able to go in and play when you’re called upon, whether it’s 15 games, 10 games, 20 games, just depending on the circumstance, and be able to provide that leadership in the locker room and be a good teammate and be ready to go when your number is called, and win.

“I know my role here. I just want to do my job.”

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Kings promote assistant John Stevens and re-sign Davis Payne and Bill Ranford

The Kings on Wednesday took a step toward planning for the day Darryl Sutter is no longer their coach. Sutter and general manager Dean Lombardi announced assistant John Stevens was promoted to the new job of associate head coach, an indication he’s in line as Sutter’s replacement. What’s more, assistant coach Davis Payne and goaltending coach Bill Ranford were given new contracts.

“Our coaching staff has been an integral part of the success of our team the last three years,” Lombardi said in a statement. “We are extremely pleased that they will remain part of our team and continue together as we strive for excellence.”


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Question-and-answer session with Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford (part 2)

Here’s the second part of a group question-and-answer session with Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford:

Question: How’s he (Martin Jones) doing it? Who is this guy and how’s he doing it?

Ranford: “It’s simple. He put the work in. It’s all on him. There’s things over the last couple of years of his development that we’ve asked him to do to get him ready to step into the NHL, and he’s done that. He’s the type of kid I think from the very first day he’s stepped into this building, there was a professionalism about him, the way he approaches his position and his work-ethic and how he’s grown as a goalie down in Manchester and that’s really what it’s all about, developing and putting the work in. That’s on him.”

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Question-and-answer session with Kings goalie coach Bill Ranford (part 1)

Here’s the first part of a group question-and-answer session with Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford:

Question: How much of it is Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones and how much is it the defense?

Ranford: “I think it’s a combination of both. You need your goalie to make the big saves at the right time and you have to play solid defense. I think this group here, going back to the Terry Murray takes, has taken a lot of pride in their defense. That hasn’t changed.”

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Assistant coaches announced

Mark Hardy will rejoin the Kings as an assistant coach, the team announced today. He will join Jamie Kompon, who has been promoted to assistant coach, and Nelson Emerson, who has been promoted to assistant coach/development coordinator under new coach Terry Murray. Hardy, formerly an assistant coach under Andy Murray, spent the past two years as an assistant coach in Chicago. I heard that he had been in discussions to be an AHL coach, but Hardy’s affinity for Southern California is well known. These new coaches will replace Mike Johnston and Dave Lewis, who have been let go. Johnston has been offered a job within the organization. Bill Ranford will remain as goaltending coach.

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