After A Scary Injury, Alec Martinez Is Ready To Go For LA Kings – News, Audio Interviews From January 9 Informal Skate

PRE-TRAINING CAMP: A few more of the Los Angeles Kings showed up at their informal skates at their practice facility on January 9, including Colin Fraser, Mike Richards, and Alec Martinez. Read on for the details, and listen to the raw audio interviews.

LA Kings defenseman Alec Martinez has just a small
scar as a reminder of a nasty injury after taking
a puck to the face while playing in the Finnish
Elite League during the NHL lockout.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Gann Matsuda/
EL SEGUNDO, CA — As the Los Angeles Kings continue to trickle back into the Los Angeles area after the National Hockey League lockout, the number of players who are participating in daily informal skates at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California, the team’s practice facility, is on the rise.

On January 8, forwards Jeff Carter, Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, Dustin Penner, Brad Richardson, and Jarret Stoll, defensemen Davis Drewiske, Matt Greene, and Rob Scuderi, and goaltender Jonathan Quick were on the ice. Today, Richardson was absent, but the rest were joined by centers Colin Fraser and Mike Richards, right wing Justin Williams (who participated in the skate on January 7, but skipped Tuesday’s skate) and defenseman Alec Martinez.

Martinez certainly had quite the journey during the lockout.

“I’ve been a bit of a suitcase during this lockout,” he said. “I spent extended time here in L.A. I was in Finland for awhile, and got hurt there.”

“Hurt” was a bit of an understatement, as he got nailed in his face by an errant puck during a game with TPS Turku of SM-liiga (Finnish Elite League).

Martinez suffered a broken bone in his left cheek, requiring surgery. He returned to the United States to continue his recovery at home, in Dallas.

Weeks later, he found himself on Central Hockey League ice, playing for the Allen Americans.

“I went back home to Dallas to recover, but I knew I had to get back on the ice, and the Allen Americans are two minutes from my house,” Martinez explained. “That seemed like the logical thing to do. It was a good situation. I knew a few guys on the team, guys I went to college with.”

With the lockout all but over, Martinez participated in his first on-ice workout with some of his Kings teammates on January 9, and showed virtually no sign of his scary injury, other than a small scar (see photo above).

“The face feels good,” said Martinez. “It’s been a little over seven weeks since the surgery. The bone is fully healed. [My face is] a little swollen, but I’m the same guy, just with a couple of metal plates in my face.”

“I felt really good, but then, with my surgery, I couldn’t do much for awhile,” added Martinez. “But I’ve been skating for a few weeks now I’m feeling good. It’s good to get back here, and play with the guys. Just doing the little skate today was a lot of fun.”

Like so many other NHL players, Martinez expressed relief that the lockout was finally over.

“We wanted to play, but we wanted a fair shake, too,” he noted. “It’s been a long road, a little bit longer for me, maybe, considering the circumstances. But I’m really happy to be back. Let’s get this thing going.”

While some players, like Martinez, spent the lockout playing in Europe, or for minor league teams, Richards used the time to rest and recover.

“I took a lot of time off,” said Richards. “I didn’t skate for bit, but I spent a lot of time in the gym, just getting the strength back. I took some time to relax, too, just getting away from everything.”

“I looked at [the lockout] as a time to rest up, spend some time at home, with family and friends, that I never would’ve got a chance to [otherwise], and to spend Fall at home, too,” added Richards. “You have to try to find the best in everything, and time off is never a bad thing.”

But with the new season finally coming soon, it was time to get back to the grind.

“It’s nice [to be back], it’s exciting,” he noted. “It’s been a long time since I haven’t skated or played for this long, so it’s an exciting time, and I’m looking forward to getting back.”

Do The Kings Have An Advantage In a Short Season?

With a very compressed, 48-game schedule all but a reality (the NHL schedule will not be announced until after the player ratify the new Collective Bargaining Agreement this weekend), the Kings may have a bit of an advantage going into a short season.

“I haven’t talked to [head coach] Darryl [Sutter], but I’m guessing he’ll take the same approach as when we won the Cup,” said Penner. “One game, one shift at a time, work on the systems.”

“We have everyone coming back, everyone knows the system,” said Fraser. “We’ll definitely need some refreshers, go over everything, and iron out the wrinkles. But that’s an advantage that we have. I don’t think I’ve been on a team where everybody came back. People want to keep winning—that’s a good reason why everyone wanted to stay.”

“Continuity and consistency are probably going to be a big thing this year, and to have the exact same team coming back—we know the system, we know what Darryl wants, and we know that what we’ve done works,” said Martinez. “We’ve just got to get that right mindset. The physical [aspect] will come along with it.”

Last season, the Kings got off to a miserable start, and their malaise continued until February, something that simply cannot happen in a 48-game season.

“Last year, you saw how different it was, with new players getting to know each other,” Richards noted. “It took some time to do that. This year, with the same crew, I think, with the short training camp, that’ll help us, knowing each other, and knowing the system we’re going to play. We don’t have to learn X’s and O’s. We just have to step in, and play hockey again.”

“Consistency is the biggest thing,” Richards added. “You don’t have time to go through those ups and downs. It’s 48 games, so you have to focus on every game.”

Focus and mindset will certainly be keys to their success…or failure, and will be magnified greatly in a short season.

“You’ve got to get into the right mindset, right away,” Martinez stressed. “It’s a shorter season, so you’ve got to get hot really quick, and you’ve got to play consistent hockey throughout the 48 games. On the other side of it, you’ve got to keep yourself healthy, and do the things off the ice to maintain the health of your body during such a compressed season.”

Strength and conditioning will play larger roles in a compressed season.

“The onus is on the player to get yourself into training camp,” said Richards. “You have to stay out here and skate a little bit, or get in here and go on the bike a little bit. The onus is on the player to not only stay in shape throughout the lockout, but also to get yourself back in shape once training camp starts.”

“Guys have been preparing throughout the lockout, staying in shape, working out,” said Martinez. “There’s probably going to be a bit of an adjustment, just getting your skating legs back, but I’m pretty confident that everyone’s in pretty good shape.”

In any case, the 2012-13 season will be a sprint to the finish line.

“We’re not going to look too far ahead,” Penner noted. “We’re going to have a big enough problem with teams [aiming] for that bulls eye on our backs after winning the Cup last year.”

“It’s going to be a condensed schedule, it’s going to be busy,” said Fraser. “Every game is going to is going to mean that much more, but all thirty teams are in the same boat.”

“We can’t do what we did last season, which was wait until [February] to start playing,” Fraser emphasized. “It’ll be too late. We have to get off to a good start. It’s just over half a season, and halfway through last season, we weren’t in great shape, so getting off to a good start is key.”

Kings To Hold Press Conference On January 10

The Kings will hold a press conference at 4:00 PM PST on Thursday, January 10, at Staples Center, where they are expected to announce details about the new season, including their expectations for their schedule, and for their first home game, where they will raise the Stanley Cup banner, and give the players their Stanley Cup rings.

Keep in mind, however, that details about their schedule will not be confirmed until this weekend, when the players are expected to ratify the new CBA.

NHL owners unanimously ratified the new CBA earlier this evening.

The press conference will be televised live on Fox Sports West.

Dave Joseph Gets Seat Upgrade

ESPN Los Angeles radio personality Dave Joseph, who also does traffic reports on several Los Angeles radio stations for Metro Networks, will move downstairs from the press box to ice level, where he will takeover the public address announcing duties for the Kings.

Joseph has filled in several times for his mentor, David Courtney, who passed away on November 29, 2012.

The Kings could not have made a better choice for Courtney’s replacement.

On A Lighter Note…

As most who follow the Kings know, Dustin Penner has a rather sly way with words, to coin a phrase.

Following the Kings’ informal skate on January 9, yours truly asked him about his conditioning heading into the compressed season.

“[My conditioning] is good,” he replied. “After last year, it’s a fresh start.”

Before those of us in the media scrum could ask a follow-up question, Penner added, “I could throw a bunch more clichés at you, but I’m tired.”

Ummm…OK then.

Raw Audio Interviews

(Extraneous material and dead air have been removed; click on the arrow to listen):

Mike Richards (3:04)

Colin Fraser (1:31)

Alec Martinez (4:50)

Dustin Penner (2:05)

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