The Kings’ roster is remarkably unchanged from the one that won the Stanley Cup championship in 2012. Does that ease coach Darryl Sutter’s mind going into Thursday’s season-opening game against the Minnesota Wild at St. Paul, Minn? Of course not.
The Kings’ roster stood at 31 names as of Wednesday afternoon, and there aren’t likely to be any surprises when they take the ice for their season-opening game Oct. 3 against the Minnesota Wild at St. Paul, Minn. In fact, the Kings’ lineup for Tuesday’s 2-1 exhibition victory over the visiting Ducks was about what you might expect to see next week.
Kings left wing Dustin Brown skated with his teammates during Wednesday’s practice, his first full-speed workout with them since he hurt his hamstring on the opening day of training camp Sept. 12. Brown won’t play in Friday’s exhibition against the New York Rangers in Las Vegas, according to Kings coach Darryl Sutter. It’s unclear whether he will play in Saturday’s exhibition finale against the Colorado Avalanche in Las Vegas.
Kings team captain Dustin Brown skated Monday for the first time since suffering an injured hamstring on the first day of training camp Sept. 12. He skated onto the ice with assistant coach Davis Payne and went through a series of drills after his teammates completed their workout. It’s unclear whether he’ll be sound enough or fit enough to play in the Kings’ season opener Oct. 3 against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul, Minn.
Team captain Dustin Brown has a sore hamstring and won’t play in either of the Kings’ split-squad exhibitions Sunday against the Phoenix Coyotes. Defenseman Willie Mitchell also will be sidelined as coach Darryl Sutter attempts to bring him along slowly after a 14-month layup because of knee troubles. Goaltender Jonathan Quick won’t play either, but not because of injury or illness. Sutter said there’s no reason for Quick to play “all our games.” Quick is a mortal lock to be the Kings’ No. 1 goalie, barring injury or illness. So, there’s no need to push him during training camp. The Kings were still determining which group would travel to Glendale, Ariz., to face the Coyotes and which squad would remain at home. Sutter said he would take a younger team to Arizona.
What to watch as the Kings began training camp Thursday:
First, the Kings were held together with yards of gauze and ace bandages, but still managed to reach the Western Conference finals last spring, a remarkable feat given the number of players who were hurting. Dustin Brown didn’t need knee surgery and said Wednesday he’s ready to go. Willie Mitchell returns to the ice after sitting out all of the lockout-shortened 2013 season after knee surgery. Justin Williams didn’t need surgery on his shoulder. Anze Kopitar said there was nothing wrong with his game that a few goals or assists wouldn’t have cured, but reporters still wondered if he wasn’t banged up last spring. Robyn Regehr had postseason arm surgery. So, it should be interesting to see how the Kings fare now that they’re back to full strength as camp begins Thursday.
Kings captain Dustin Brown, goaltender Jonathan Quick and unsigned free agent forward Trevor Lewis were invited Monday to attend the United States Olympic team orientation camp Aug. 26-27 in Arlington, Va. Brown and Quick were no-brainers for the selection committee and should be key members of Team USA’s roster for the Sochi Olympics.
As expected, the NHL and the players union reached an agreement with the IIHF on Friday morning to send players to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The NHL will take a break from Feb. 9 to Feb. 26. The Olympic tournament will be held Feb. 12-23.
The Kings and team captain Dustin Brown agreed Thursday on an eight-season contract extension that will pay him
an average of $5.75 million a total of $47 million and keep him in uniform through 2021-22. He has played all of his nine NHL seasons with the Kings and has been the team’s captain since Oct. 8, 2008.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter met with reporters for about 20 minutes two days after the team’s playoff ouster at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks. The conversation touched on a variety of subjects, including what the Kings must improve on for next season. There also questions about the health of the team following a second consecutive lengthy playoff run. Sutter answered some questions, dodged others and acknowledged the job reporters have to do. Here’s the third part of a four-part installment.
Question: Talking about lowering the goal-against average for next season, would that be the major concern or would it be the left wing and the lack of production there?
Answer: “I said goals-against. I didn’t say production. We went from 30th to sixth in offense. We went to third in our conference. So, we’re not looking at it by position. We have multiple players who play multiple positions. If you’re listening, I did that once we know our roster then we would know better. Our goals-against, very simple, you don’t win. Teams I coach are always great defensively. We were a great defensive team again this year. But our goals-against … what you do home-and-road, there’s a disparity.”