EL SEGUNDO, CA — With defenseman Drew Doughty still a no-show on the ice at the Los Angeles Kings 2014 training camp due to an upper body injury and with players and coaches refusing to comment on the status of Kyle Clifford (wrist), Jonathan Quick (wrist), and Jarret Stoll (hip), who are all recovering from off-season surgery, the story lines for Day 2 of the Kings training camp sounded a lot like they did for Day 1.
However, some new tidbits surfaced, including a commitment each player made before they all went their separate ways for the summer.
“We all made an agreement, defenseman Alec Martinez explained. “We set a date in early July [for when it’s] back to work, time to start training again. I don’t think the numbers [from physical/strength testing] have come back yet, but all the guys look like they’re in shape and ready to go.”
“We had a team meeting before we all dispersed, and we agreed on that,” Martinez elaborated. “Everyone followed suit, by the looks of it.”
Coming into training camp in top shape is critical for any National Hockey League player, but it is especially crucial for the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
“You obviously have a target on your back and, not that anyone took us lightly—we’ve been a pretty good hockey club for a few years now,” said Martinez. “You’re going to get the best from everyone, every night That can wear on teams. That’s the physical side of it. The mental side is a big part of it, too.”
Although they are not focused on repeating as Stanley Cup Champions, not yet, anyway, that is the “off-in-the-distance” goal.
“The fact of the matter is that it’s hard [to repeat],” said right wing Justin Williams. “It’s damned hard. No one’s repeated since [the Detroit Red Wings in 1996-97 and 1997-98]. Granted, there’s more parity in the league, there’s thirty teams, a salary cap, short summers to deal with, questions of a team sticking together. But we’ve got, basically, the same team. Our hunger is going to be exactly where it needs to be because we’ve felt what it tasted like to have it, and then have it taken away from us.”
Having won the Stanley Cup twice in the last three seasons, the Kings want to do it again, now, more than ever.
“To be quite honest, some people talk about being satisfied after winning one, but personally, and I probably speak for most of the guys, if not all the guys in the room, it really makes you hungrier,” Martinez noted. “It makes you want to do it again. The amount of fun that you have, just with your teammates and your family, it’s a really special thing. You want to keep doing it, and do it as many times as you possibly can.”
“It’s going to be a tough test, both physically and mentally,” Martinez added. “But] I think we’ve got a good group in this room who know what to expect and have gone through it once, or for a lot of us, twice before. It’s just a matter of going out there and playing our game.”
“We don’t know how good we can be,” said Williams. “But we’re going to give it our all and we’re going to find out how far we can take it.”
One Kings player who is certainly hungrier going into the 2014-15 season is veteran center Mike Richards, who, despite winning the Stanley Cup with the Kings, had a very poor 2013-14 season.
“It was just one of those things that started snowballing, and I just couldn’t stop it,” Richards lamented. I’m happy that it ended with a [Stanley Cup] win, because you hate to waste a full season.”
“If the team wins, it’s great,” Richards added. “You’d love to have 100 points and fifty goals, or whatever it is. But I’d rather be on a team that wins than do those things. You hate to go through a season having a bad year, because then, it’s just a full, wasted season. Now you turn a crappy season into a really good one.”
Indeed, even though Richards had won his second Stanley Cup in three seasons, he had such a poor 2013-14 season that the Kings considering buying out his contract, only to decide to retain Richards after his exit interview with the team.
Richards said he was a bit concerned going into his exit interview.
“If I thought it would happen or not, I don’t know if I ever did, but there was always that possibility, and that makes you nervous,” he noted. “I like it here. My family likes it here and my girlfriend likes it here, so I wanted to be here. Obviously, on the ice speaks for itself with the team we have here. Just everything about it—I wanted to be here.”
As a result, and as originally reported on September 16, 2014, by ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Richards dedicated himself to a training regimen during the off-season.
“I worked out with a trainer for the first time since I was in junior,” said Richards. “Just [for his trainer] to be there and push me and make sure that I’m there every day, almost like a baby sitter, I guess. But it’s good.”
“I worked out in the city, too, with different guys who are in the NHL,” added Richards. “Having that presence around people while working out to push each other—for the first time, I kind of see the benefit of it.”
As Richards indicated, prior to this past summer he did not have anyone keeping his nose stuck to the grindstone, so to speak.
“I didn’t have a trainer [before, so] I was pushed a lot more,” he noted. “It’s always nice to have someone there spotting you so you can do those couple of extra reps.”
“I hired someone who knew what they were doing,” he added. “I’ve done it for a long time, but you don’t know the logistics of what you’re doing or why you’re doing it, so in that sense, it’s beneficial.”
Richards even had Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi checking up on him, making the long trek to his home in Kenora, Ontario.
“I had him over for a workout and a lunch, coffee,” said Richards. “He literally came in, and I think it took him longer to get to Kenora than he actually stayed in Kenora. He watched me workout.”
The results of Richards’ off-season training have been noticed by his teammates.
“I know he’s in shape,” said Williams. “He did quite a few pull-ups in there while I was watching. I’m sure he wants to better himself and establish himself as one of the premier centers in the league.”
“He’s done all the right talking and it looks like he’s done a lot of work as well,” added Williams.
2014 LA Kings Training Camp Coverage
- LA Kings 2014 Training Camp: Day 2 – The Hunger To Win It All Again, Or Just To Redeem Oneself
- Frozen Royalty Audio: LA Kings 2014 Training Camp – Day 2 Interviews
- 2014-15 Los Angeles Kings: “Make The Playoffs First”
- LA Kings Open Their 2014 Training Camp – In Photos
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