Mueller's Minutes - And So It Begins...
Kimberly Mueller has been with the Monarchs since September 2003 and serves as the team's Vice President of Public Affairs. She is currently on assignment in Los Angeles for the Kings 2013 Training Camp. Mueller's Minutes is a daily blog that will give Monarchs Country an insider's look into their favorite hockey team as the players fight for a roster spot with the Kings and prepare for the upcoming season.
It has been two years since I have come out to Los Angeles for Training Camp. It was not until I was here and seeing all of the players that I realized that the last time I talked to any of the Kings players was post-game in April of 2012 prior to them winning the Stanley Cup. And the last time I was in Los Angeles was for Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final in 2012. So much has changed in the last two years and yet so much remains the same.
It was strange asking guys like Trevor Lewis and Alec Martinez what’s new because even though summer was great and they are back and ready for the season, they became Stanley Cup Champions since I saw them last. It seems so long ago that they hoisted the Cup into the air for the first time and then shared it with their families and friends. In reality, it was only 15 months ago.
This is also the first Training Camp that I have attended with Darryl Sutter as the Head Coach and Davis Payne as one of the Assistant Coaches. I spoke briefly with Sutter regarding the Stanley Cup Championship and passed on my congratulations since I have not seen him since the victory. He mentioned how tough it is to win, shook his head and then said they were pretty close last year too.
The locker room is decorated with Stanley Cup photos and memorabilia. There is a small Stanley Cup trophy with all of the names of the Kings who won it in 2012 engraved on it displayed in the locker room hallway and a photo in the shape of the Stanley Cup with all of the players’ pictures in it as they hoisted the Cup individually. Winning the Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal every season and the additions to the hallway are great reminders of the hard work, grit, determination and excitement that went into winning it.
A majority of the Monarchs players have been in Los Angeles for a couple of weeks training and/or participating in Rookie Camp. Coach Morris was impressed with Brandon Kozun at Rookie Camp. He’s worked hard over the summer and is in great shape. It was also great to see that Tanner Pearson, Linden Vey and Tyler Toffoli continue to have their on-ice chemistry as Coach reunited them on their line during Rookie Camp.
We’re going to have a great battle for the back-up goaltender position in Camp this season. Martin Jones will be competing with Ben Scrivens and former Monarchs netminder Mathieu Garon for the No. 2 spot with the Kings. Biting at their heels are also J.F. Berube, Patrik Bartosak and Mathias Niederberger who all had great showings between the pipes during Rookie Camp. I did not realize this until I spoke with him but this is Berube’s first Training Camp at 100%. He’s been injured at camp every year. It was also great to reunite with Garon today. He was in Manchester during the 2004-05 season. I remember his little boy being around a year old and now he’s nine. I cannot even believe it!
Today was a long day for the players that did not participate in Rookie Camp as they had physical testing. Nothing is more exhausting than their bike test. Many tired legs headed back home or to their hotel rooms to nap this afternoon. For the rookies, they had to get their headshots done today and come to a team meeting so they were able to relax for a day between Rookie Camp and Training Camp.
The players hit the ice tomorrow and officially start the 2013-14 season. Many unanswered questions begin to be thrown around. Who will make the Kings roster? Who will be in Manchester? How will the teams look? Will the Kings win the Stanley Cup? Will the Monarchs win the Calder Cup? Tomorrow is just the beginning of a seven-to-nine month season battling for the ultimate prize.