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Transition To North American Game Hasn’t Been Easy For LA Kings Prospect Maxim Kitsyn

LA Kings left wing prospect Maxim Kitsyn, shown here during the team’s
2013-14 training camp in October 2013.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/FrozenRoyalty.net

ONTARIO, CA — While the National Hockey League is off the ice during the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, other North American leagues are still on the ice, including the ECHL, where Los Angeles Kings left wing prospect Maxim Kitsyn is working to hone his skills.

Almost four years ago, Kitsyn, a native of Novokuznetsk, Russia who was 18 years of age at the time, came to Los Angeles for the 2010 National Hockey League Entry Draft, held at Staples Center. He was selected by the Kings in the sixth round (158th overall).

Back then, Kitsyn was already playing in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, and aside from a 32-game stint in the 2010-11 season with the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors of the Ontario Hockey League, he remained in the KHL. As a result, for many NHL followers, he was out of sight, out of mind. He became a mostly forgotten Kings prospect.

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Gasper Kopitar: Forever Skating In Big Brother Anze’s Shadow

Ontario Reign center Gasper Kopitar, the younger brother of Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, scored the overtime
game-winner in his home debut, leading the Reign to a 3-2 victory over the San Francisco Bulls at
Citizens Business Bank Arena, in Ontario, California on January 5, 2014.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/FrozenRoyalty.net

ONTARIO, CA — Those who have brothers or sisters should be very familiar with sibling rivalry, and even having an older sibling who excelled in everything, and then having to follow in their footsteps with those huge shoes to fill.

If you think that’s bad, imagine being the little brother trying to live up to sky-high expectations set by an older brother who is among the best in the world in his chosen field or profession.

That is exactly what Gasper Kopitar has experienced throughout his life, dealing with stratospheric expectations as he follows in the footsteps of his older brother, Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar.

The older Kopitar, now 26 years old, is considered to be among the National Hockey League’s best players, and he has excelled at every level he has played at, whether it was back home in Slovenia as a teenager, two years in Sweden, and then in the NHL with the Kings, winning the Stanley Cup in 2012.

Those are enormous skate boots to fill, and the younger Kopitar indicated that unrealistic expectations nearly drove him away from the game for good.

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LA Kings Goalie Prospect J.F. Berube Pushed Hard To Take The Next Step

Los Angeles Kings goaltender prospect Jean-Francois Berube, shown here during the team’s 2013 Rookie Camp.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/FrozenRoyalty.net

LOS ANGELES — After completing an up-and-down—literally—2012-13 season, Los Angeles Kings goaltender prospect Jean-Francois Berube set his sights on taking the next step in his development—earning a spot on the roster of the American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate.

But after being unable to firmly establish himself as the number one goalie with the Kings’ ECHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, over the prior two seasons, and especially with him not getting as much ice time last season as he did the previous year after spending several weeks with the Monarchs in a backup role, there were questions in the minds of the Kings’ brain trust about what the better move would be for Berube: do they get him more ice time by sending him back to Ontario for a third season, or do they have him play in a backup role at the AHL level with the Monarchs?

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LA Kings Looking For Goalie Prospect J.F. Berube To Step Up to #2 Position With AHL’s Manchester Monarchs

LA Kings goalie prospect Jean-Francois Berube, shown here during
pre-game warm-ups with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign.
(click to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan

LOS ANGELES AND ONTARIO, CA — For Los Angeles Kings goaltender prospect Jean-Francois Berube, the 2012-13 season was a step forward, but at the same time, it was also a mixed bag.

Indeed, Berube’s regular season numbers with the Ontario Reign (Kings’ ECHL affiliate) improved, year-to-year, but he played in considerably fewer games.

To illustrate, Berube, 22, played in 37 regular season games with the Reign in 2011-12, earning a 17-13-3 (and one shootout loss), with a 2.87 goals-against average (GAA), a .907 save percentage, and four shutouts.

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