Devin Setoguchi has arrived in Ontario.
It wasn’t an easy or ideal route to get here either.
But now, since clearing waivers and being assigned to the Reign by the Kings, a new kind of work will start for the 30-year-old who’s played in over 500 NHL games.
“I get to play some hockey. Last year I was overseas so this is obviously not what I wanted to start the year, it’s not ideal, but everyone in here in this dressing room is a professional hockey player and I’m no different,” Setoguchi said after taking the ice for morning skate on Wednesday before the Reign host Iowa. “So I have to try and come here and do the best I possibly can. For me, I wasn’t playing very much up there, close to 10 minutes. So it will be nice to get back, play some minutes and hopefully be able to contribute the right way.”
There was also one report out that Setoguchi may not report to Ontario as assigned by the Kings to do so. He denied that quickly.
“That’s rumors, right? People write things,” he said. “My wife, we had to figure out a decision and we were up north on a five-day break and it wasn’t that I wasn’t going to report, it was just we needed to get time to get back, get situated and be able to get back down here. And fortunately enough we got back last night and we drove from San Jose six hours and then we got here this morning.”
The Kings signed Setoguchi out of training camp and he had four goals and eight assists in 45 games. He becomes the fourth player to be waived by the Kings and sent to Ontario — joining forward Teddy Purcell (currently injured), defenseman Tom Gilbert (traded today to the Washington Capitals), and defenseman Rob Scuderi.
Purcell before his injury was racking up points — 22 in 22 games to be exact — and head coach Mike Stothers is hoping Setoguchi, who has 261 NHL points, can bring similar contributions to his injury-plagued roster.
“Hopefully he’s going to bring what Teddy brought. Teddy’s a point a game guy, made a difference on our team, there’s no doubt about it,” Stothers said. “Creative, made some plays, scored some big goals. I think that’s what we’re hoping we can get from Seto. It might take him a couple games to get adjusted, too. He hasn’t played a whole lot up top … coming down to the American Hockey League, it’s not as easy. … Hopefully he can bring us a little bit of offense. We’re hurting to find some offense. We don’t score much. Four goals in our last four games, seven goals in our last five. It’s hard to win.”
One thing Setoguchi does have on his side is a familiar environment that’s not too far from Los Angeles. He actually played 10 games for the ECHL-Reign during the 2012-13 NHL work stoppage, totaling four goals and nine assists.
“It’s crazy. That year we had the lockout and I had a couple friends here that were playing in the East Coast league so I came to play and practice and it was fun,” he recalled. “Great rink, great facility. I think this is probably — I’ve only been in the minors a couple times for briefly — but this is definitely the best set-up I’ve seen and I’m sure the guys around the room can attest to that, that this is probably one of the best places to play.”
The Reign have lost their last two games by 4-1 scores and in the process have slid to third in the Pacific Division standings. They’ll need whatever Setoguchi can offer when he makes his debut at 7 p.m. against the Iowa Wild.
“I just got back from a five-day break so I haven’t skated in six days,” he said. “So this is going to be something where mentally I have to prepare the right way and be prepared to play smart and go out there and try to do what I can do and control my play the best way I can.”