Mueller's Minutes - A Return To STAPLES Center
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.
The last time I was in STAPLES Center for a Los Angeles Kings game was Game Four of the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals. The energy in the arena that night was indescribable. Lord Stanley was in the house and the Kings were so close to meeting him that night. The crowd was deafening. I do not know if I will ever experience a game like that again. I hope I will and I hope everyone can experience the thrill and excitement of a Stanley Cup Finals game.
An exhibition game is drastically different from a Stanley Cup Final game but tonight’s game signifies the beginning of the journey to win the ultimate prize. It was an opportunity for the young players to showcase their talent and fight for a position on the Kings roster. The highlight of tonight’s game was watching rookie forwards Scott Sabourin, Valentin Zykov and Nick Shore. It seemed like anytime something was developing in the offensive zone, it involved those three players. Zykov broke in on a two-on-one with Sabourin in the second period. Zykov skated down the middle and slipped a no-look pass to Sabourin in the left face-off circle. Sabourin riffled off a one-time that rang off the crossbar. The line did not capitalize on the opportunity but it was exciting to see the chemistry these three players had on the ice tonight.
It was also a thrill to see so many Monarchs jerseys in the stands. Prior to the game, two fans in Monarchs jerseys were interviewed on the jumbotron and they were wearing Slava Voynov lettered jerseys from Manchester. I walked along the concourse during the first intermission to meet up with a friend and found a couple more Monarchs jerseys. And then I took a swing through the Team LA store and found another Monarchs jersey. I have been to STAPLES Center before and seen many Monarchs jerseys but it seemed that the number of jerseys representing our team in Manchester had multiplied. With the recent response to the Los Angeles Kings Night jersey vote to determine the Monarchs specialty jersey that they will wear in January, it appears that the Monarchs brand is at an all-time high on the West Coast.
I know I probably sound like a broken record but the Monarchs helped develop 14 of the Stanley Cup Champions. The coaching staff in Manchester are doing their job and developing players for Los Angeles. We saw Jake Muzzin solidify a spot in the Kings line-up last season and Tyler Toffoli made an impact in the playoffs. Who will be the next Monarchs player to get the call and head to California to help the Kings to what we hope is a second Stanley Cup victory? Only time will tell. I am glad I get to be one of the many loyal Monarchs fans that get to see these players develop and cheer them on to making their NHL dreams come true.
Before I let you go, I have to share an adorable locker room story from today. After the morning skate, Justin William’s son, Jaxon, was in the locker room and played goalie for a little tape hockey game with his dad and Jonathan Quick. Jaxon made some incredible saves as he wore Quick’s glove and blocker. Once the game was over, Quick removed his goalie pads (yes, he wore them during the tape hockey game) and then Jaxon tried them on for size. He actually only put on the right pad and it came up to about the midway point of his chest. He also put on Quick’s old helmet. Jaxon hopped back into his net with one pad, glove, blocker, helmet and all for a couple more shots from Quick. Do we have a future Kings goaltender in the making? Maybe!