Good morning, Las Vegas - LA Kings Insider

Good morning, Las Vegas, and good morning, Insiders.

The first-ever postseason match-up between the Golden State and the Silver State is upon us. Tension is high. A nascent rivalry evolves. Let’s talk… MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL.

Long before the Golden Knights, there were the Las Vegas Stars, and, since 2001, the Las Vegas 51s, a team nickname that pays homage to the restricted air force facility northwest of the city colloquially known as Area 51 that has become the epicenter of extraterrestrial conspiracy.

The 51s and Stars, who have been the Pacific Coast League’s Triple-A affiliate of the Padres, Dodgers, Blue Jays and Mets since 1983, were, along with the Las Vegas Thunder (IHL/1993-99) and Wranglers (ECHL/2003-14), the only upper-tier minor league sports teams – if we’re not counting the on-again, off-again ABA, XFL and Arena Football League relationships – before the arrival of the major league Golden Knights. The NFL’s Raiders, who still have a large following throughout California, will arrive within the next two years, and the Las Vegas Aces will bring WNBA basketball to the city late next month. This is all excellent news for a rapidly growing city that has long been thirsty for fun, family entertainment that isn’t associated with gaming or the need to rub elbows with the millions of tourists that descend upon the city each year.

I interned with the 51s in 2004, a year in which Cody Ross, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Joel Hanrahan and Edwin Jackson spent time with the club. The team played games (and still does) at Cashman Field, one of the traditionally hitter-friendly PCL stadiums just outside of downtown Las Vegas. Next year, the team will move to Las Vegas Ballpark, the open-air stadium in the planned community of Summerlin west of the Strip that is adjacent to the Golden Knights’ practice facility and team headquarters at City National Arena. This is excellent news given that the construction of a new ballpark was stalled for much of last decade as local governments weighed various projects (and the prospect of building a minor league stadium that could eventually expand into a major league facility) without any shovels having touched dirt until early this year.

These infrastructure projects in entertainment are overdue for a city that may not rank among the top 30 television markets but has shown in the inaugural year of a thrilling expansion campaign that Las Vegas will enthusiastically embrace high-level professional sports, especially so given the Golden Knights’ immediate success and the unique quirks in their game presentation. The local success of the Nashville Predators may serve as an interesting warm-weather model. In any event, it’s terrific to be a part of a quickly developing major league rivalry between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Wheels-up to wheels-down, we were in the air for roughly 45 minutes on Tuesday. Our touch down:

The Kings are scheduled to take the T-Mobile Arena ice at 11:00 for their first morning skate of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Let’s talk soon, Insiders.

Jake Muzzin

#6 | 6′ 3″ | 216 lb | Age: 27

Born: Feb 21, 1989
Birthplace: Woodstock, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Muzzin was drafted in 2007 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, before signing to the Kings in 2010. He has since become the first Woodstock, Ontario professional athlete to win a major sports trophy.
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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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