Leadership Skills Give Zac Leslie, Valentin Zykov A Boost At LA Kings Development Camp

AUDIO: Interviews with Los Angeles Kings prospects Zac Leslie and Valentin Zykov are included.


LA Kings right wing prospect Valentin Zykov
(click above for larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net

EL SEGUNDO, CA — When most people who follow the National Hockey League look at a team’s prospects coming up through their system, the focus is almost exclusively on a particular player’s development, in terms of how they are improving their play.

But equally important in player development is how they handle themselves off the ice, and especially in terms of intangible qualities that can either benefit or hurt a player, especially a young, up-and-coming one.

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LA Kings Do Development Camp Differently

AUDIO: Story includes audio interviews with Nelson Emerson and Mike O’Connell from the Los Angeles Kings development staff.


LA Kings Director of Player Development Nelson Emerson
(click above for larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net

EL SEGUNDO, CA — Years ago, the Los Angeles Kings ran their annual summer Development Camp for their young prospects as many National Hockey League clubs still do: focusing on the on-ice part of the game, including lots of scrimmage time. Some teams emphasize the scrimmage portion of their development camps, using that to retain and increase fan interest during the off-season lull. Some teams even go so far as to make their development camp scrimmages enough of a spectacle in which fans buy tickets to watch the games.

In the early years of their Development Camp, the Kings did that, too. But as Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi built his team into a two-time Stanley Cup Champion in recent years, their Development Camp has evolved into one that stresses off-ice instruction and training as much or more than on-ice instruction and drills. In fact, over the past handful of years, it has not been uncommon for the Kings to not play a scrimmage at all during their Development Camp. On top of that, their camp is so low-key that the team does not announce exact starting times for on-ice sessions, and only one day is designated as “media day,” when the local media are granted access to the prospects and the development staff for interviews.

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2015 LA Kings Draft Preview

LOS ANGELES — In the 2012 National Hockey League Draft, the Kings had the final selection (30th overall). In 2014, they had the 29th overall pick, one ahead of the New Jersey Devils, who were moved behind all the other NHL teams in the first round as punishment for signing forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a contract that circumvented the league’s salary cap rules.

Getting stuck with the last pick in the first round of the draft (or 29th in 2014) was the “price” the Kings paid for winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014.

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Dedication, Determination Continue To Drive LA Kings Prospect Maxim Kitsyn Forward

LA Kings forward prospect Maxim Kitsyn (number 13), shown here with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

ONTARIO, CA — When Frozen Royalty last checked in with Los Angeles Kings forward prospect Maxim Kitsyn, who is playing for the Kings’ current ECHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, his determination to improve was the thing that stood out the most.

As the 2014-15 season nears its conclusion, the 6-4, 202-pound native of Novokuznetzk, Russia, remains as determined as ever.

“He’s a quality person, and you like working with kids like that because they’ve got that focus, drive and determination to get better,” said Reign head coach Jason Christie.

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Ontario Reign Look Anything But Regal In Game 5 Loss To Allen Americans In 2015 ECHL West Finals

LA Kings forward prospect Maxim Kitsyn, shown
here with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/CaliShooterOne Photography

ONTARIO, CA — On a night when their opposition, the Allen Americans, were on the brink of elimination from the ECHL’s 2015 Western Conference Finals, and knowing that their team was just one win away from reaching the 2015 Kelly Cup Final for the first time in franchise history, the Ontario Reign looked anything but regal.

Instead, the Reign were soundly beaten in Game 5 on Sunday night, 6-2, in front of 4,371 fans at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California.

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