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LA Kings Hockey Fest - Richards and Gagne Meet Fans, But No Doughty

Sarah Sotoodeh |
September 12, 2011 | 6:21 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

 

Kings captain Dustin Brown addresses fans at Staples Center. (Sarah Sotoodeh)
Kings captain Dustin Brown addresses fans at Staples Center. (Sarah Sotoodeh)
After a long summer, the Kings are back.

The Los Angeles Kings Hockey Fest '11 brought fans to the Staples Center on September 11 to see their favorite Kings players and get their hockey fix in anticipation of the upcoming season.

Hockey Fest '11 opened with a State of the Kings address featuring with President/GM Dean Lombardi, head coach Terry Murray and other team personnel answering fan questions.

During the pep rally that followed, all of the 2011-12 players were introduced to the crowd. Noticeably absent was defenseman Drew Doughty.

Lombardi touched on the delay in signing the 21-year-old defenseman. Although he couldn’t give details, he told the fans that he hopes to see Doughty at training camp Friday. Lombardi spoke highly of Doughty's dedication and heart to the team, and the strides he's made to improve his game and become a great player.

"He's 21 years old now and got a lot of things coming at him, but we are going to get through this," Lombardi told the crowd. "He's going to be here a long time and this is just a bump in the road."

After a fan asked about the recent deaths involving enforcers, vice president of hockey operations Jeff Solomon assured the fans that the league and the Player's Association are working hard on trying to help players as much as needed and coming up with a plan to do that.

After the Q-and-A portion, former King Luc Robitaille, Hall of Famer and President of Business Operations, thanked the crowd. He welcomed the fans and let them know that all proceeds of the sold-out Hockey Fest will go to charity.

Goalkeeper Jonathan Quick said he enjoys Hockey Fest and sees it as the start of the season.

"You know the season is right around the corner when you come here and you get to see all the fans and how excited they are and looking forward to the season, as we are," Quick said. "We are all looking forward and we can’t wait. It’s a lot of fun to interact with the fans and it’s great to get everybody together at the Staples Center, which you don't get to do during summertime," Quick said.

Summer Preparation

After their heartbreaking loss to San Jose during the first round of the 2010-11 season playoffs, the Kings have one goal in mind this coming season—to win it all.

Defenseman Matt Greene used his summer to get his body healthy to the point where working out is more injury prevention then getting stronger. When asked about goals for the season, Greene had just one.

"Be the best team we can. I think we can win the west. Just get ourselves home ice at the playoffs and roll from there," Greene said.

Winger Kyle Clifford built his own gym at his home in Canada and spent time training and working out.

"Working out is fun for me, so I enjoy it. I got a little bit of a break when I first got back and kind of relaxed," he said. "Other then that, I just stay focused and I knew we were going to have a good team this year. I definitely wanted to be as prepared as I could, as I'm sure all the other guys were too—they all have one goal in mind too."

Forward Justin Williams dislocated his right shoulder in March but was able to play in the postseason by wearing a harness to keep his shoulder protected. He underwent surgery in early May, and at Hockey Fest looked healthy and ready for the upcoming season.

"I had shoulder surgery so I have been doing a lot of shoulder rehab, working on quick feet," he said. "I'm turning 30 in a few weeks here so sometimes when you hit that age you start going down, but I want to try and go the other way and try to get better."

Center Kevin Westgarth also had a busy summer -- he got married and started a Twitter account. Westgarth (@KWesty19) joined the Twitterverse after thinking about it for a while and realizing that social media is here to stay.

"It's great to have some followers and to know Kings fans are that passionate and that they are willing to follow me," he said. "It's definitely a way to access the fans...and I'm looking forward to being able to use it for various charities I support."

Former Philly Teammates

Ex-Flyers Mike Richards and Simon Gagne joined Ethan Moreau and Colin Fraser for "Meet the New Kings," a panel that introduced the players to the fans and answered their questions.

Following the panel, Gagne spoke about his determination to play well this year with the Kings.

"I had a hard time last year, getting traded from Philly to Tampa and I had an okay season. I had some good playoffs," the 31-year-old winger said. "I want to get back to where I was two years ago and be able to definitely score a lot more goals than I did in the last two years and get back to the offense that I was capable of doing. That was one reason why I came here."

Mike Richards had a busy summer too, from making the big move to Los Angeles to settling in while recovering from a hand injury. Richards made time to workout, just like he’s done over the past six years.

"The first little bit of summer I had to do rehab for my hand but after that it was just a normal summer working out and training, just relaxing and getting my mind ready for a long season," he said.

The Kings' season starts October 7 in Stockholm, Sweden against the New York Rangers. The first home game at Staples Center is October 18, against the St. Louis Blues.

_______________________

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