It’s certain that the vast majority of Kings fans aren’t as familiar with Adam Cracknell as Daryl Sutter.
Of course many will recall the “CPR Line” that reached its peak of recognition in the spring of 2013, when Cracknell, Chris Porter and Ryan Reaves combined to form an effective energy line for the St. Louis Blues and found success early in the club’s first round series against Los Angeles, won by the Kings in six games.
Sutter, on the other hand, said matter-of-factly that he’s known Cracknell for nine years.
“More than anybody in the organization, that’s for sure,” the Kings’ coach said.
Sutter’s son, Brett, skated on a line with Cracknell while the two were members of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice for two full seasons and parts of a third from 2003-06. Brett Sutter was eventually traded to the Brent Sutter-owned Red Deer Rebels midway through the 2005-06 season, though Darryl was still keen on his son’s former linemate.
“He’s improved a lot,” Sutter said. “He’s one of those boys, he went through a draft, maybe two drafts. I think he was not drafted until he was a 19-year-old. Obviously he’s paid his dues and earned it. Your team always needs depth and role players, and Adam’s in that same group, when you look at it, like those guys that don’t get much credit but are a big part of good teams – guys like Cliffy and Jordy and guys like that.”
Speaking of Kyle Clifford, Cracknell skated opposite the fifth year winger on a line centered by Trevor Lewis at practice on Sunday. Nolan, who was part of a later training camp group, skated alongside Jordan Weal and Justin Auger.
It’s never a bad thing to have healthy competition at training camp– Andy Andreoff will also be in the mix amongst the team’s checking forwards – and it’s not certain that Cracknell, a 29-year-old who has played more games in the AHL (375) and ECHL (92) than the NHL (65) will open the season in Los Angeles.
There wasn’t an expanse of opportunity for Cracknell, who understood that he wouldn’t return to St. Louis for the 2014-15 season. That a team like the Kings was interested in his services was an excellent situation, regardless of which other teams kicked the tires.
“I think any guy just looking for a job right now, you just take what you can get,” Cracknell said. “But coming to LA, it definitely plays into my style playing with guys like Clifford, Nolan, just big bodies where we all play the same so it won’t take long to get chemistry going and that kind of perspective. Every team’s building to be like LA, so to be a part of this organization it’s going to be very exciting.”
He learned that Los Angeles had offered a contract while playing miniature golf with his wife on July 1.
“It was just a standard day,” Cracknell recalled.
“I was very excited. I knew I wasn’t going back to St. Louis. I know they were making changes over the last couple of years, and not having success, every team wants to build forward, right? So to get a call from the defending Stanley Cup champions, it was huge. I’m very excited. But I know this summer it was very not just physical, but mentally prepare yourself for a season where every team’s going to want to beat you and dethrone the Kings, obviously.”
On his view of the rivalry with the Blues from St. Louis’ perspective:
I think it was just two teams kind of built the same. You definitely look at it, we had maybe not as much experience as them – especially with me, Porter and Reaves, we were all new – so we all brought a lot of energy, which is also a good thing. We were fresh faces, and we brought what we needed to bring to the series. Unfortunately we didn’t come out with a win in the series, but I think we made a lot of positives in our game and a step in the right direction.
On being one of the few new faces in the Kings’ room:
It’s definitely huge for an organizational standpoint. When you don’t have that much changeover, you know a lot of guys who are familiar with each other the last few years. As for chemistry, that’s huge. Obviously having success just makes guys that much better and more familiar with each other. Just coming in, just kind of minding my own business but also watching how guys conduct themselves and how they practice. Every practice is almost like a game for guys like myself, just to be ready and when called upon just make sure I’m ready to go. Playing against LA, I know it’s nice to be on the other side of those guys and to be hitting with them and playing with them, it’s definitely huge.
On three Kootenay alums in the Kings’ dressing room:
I came after Jarret, and then Brayden came after me. So there’s definitely some familiarity there. We have a lot of roots back there, but at the same time, yeah, you’re kind of familiar with each other. But it’s always exciting to be part of one organization together.