Good afternoon, Insiders. Some news and stories of note from the shallow depths of July, 2016:
TALKIN’ PROSPECTS. I joined Guy Flaming and Dean Millard on The Pipeline Show last night to reflect on development camp and share a few impressions of those coming through Los Angeles’ system. It’s an Edmonton show, and there’s some good Western-centric conversation on players such as Kale Clague and Austin Wagner.
ARMY HOMECOMING. A hearty welcome-home to Derek Armstrong, who has rejoined the Kings as the team’s Director, Hockey Programming & Curriculum. His position ties in with Hockey Development and the club’s youth hockey alliances, so after 385 games with Los Angeles and 477 games in an NHL uniform, he’ll be among those looking to grow the game both locally and beyond. He recently traveled to Shanghai with fellow alum Brandon Convery to lead a youth camp that featured impressive Kings branding inside of a largely untapped market that appears to be growing.
LA Kings hitting the ice in Shanghai as part of our trip there overseas. Growing the game. pic.twitter.com/GlZ1Vy6hDS
— LAKingsPR (@LAKingsPR) July 5, 2016
Kings Clinic in Shanghai continues. Today at the Feiyang Skating Center w/our Derek Armstrong and Brandon Convery pic.twitter.com/qXgaUFLxO7
— LAKingsPR (@LAKingsPR) July 4, 2016
That Armstrong rejoined the organization shouldn’t come as a major shock, given his close ties to former teammates and the infectious energy that carries over from his playing days. Two off-seasons ago, I wrote about his transition into his post-playing career and his relationship with Luc Robitaille and the Kings.
LABARBERA MOVES ON Stick taps to Jason LaBarbera, who has retired from his playing career and has been hired as the Calgary Hitmen’s new goaltending coach. LaBarbera, who appeared in 187 NHL games with the Rangers, Kings, Canucks, Coyotes, Oilers and Ducks from 2000-15, appeared in 93 games with the Kings last decade and ranks 13th in club history – between Mathieu Garon and Byron Dafoe – with 4,849 minutes logged.
The 36-year-old Burnaby, B.C., native made it clear that he has what it takes and, added to his extensive professional resume, he could take his talents overseas like many hockey players do in the twilight of their hockey careers.
But, following two springtime hip surgeries and a winter in the American Hockey League with the Philadelphia Flyers organization (which included a call-up but zero National Hockey League games), he decided that perhaps it was time.
Then, a goaltending coach job came up with the Calgary Hitmen.
“Just the thought of recovering (from surgery), finding another job, moving my family or, doing what we’ve done in the past few years — me leaving and them staying,” LaBarbera was saying. “It wasn’t really an option. We’d done it for two years and I just can’t do it again.
“I could still play if I wanted to. I’m sure there’s lots of places and Europe that would take me. But, at the same time, I didn’t want to uproot my family.”
LaBarbera and his wife Kodette (known best for her fundraising efforts in support of autism and her appearance on the reality series Hockey Wives) and their two children Ryder and Easton have called Calgary home for the past 13 years. It’s their off-season base.
Kodette LaBarbera has also spearheaded a fundraising campaign to benefit the families of those affected by the 2011 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl tragedy. For more on her and Jason’s love and care of their son, Ryder, click here. To donate to Autism Speaks, click here.
DA BEAUTY LEAGUE. Yes, this is a thing. The – err, excuse me, Da – Beauty League. On Tuesdays and Thursdays through the second week of August, teams comprised mostly of NHL, AHL and NCAA players at Braemar Arena in suburban Edina, Minn. will compete for the John Scott Cup, as Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune writes. Rosters are available here; if you’re in the area – Minnesota being an easy drive from anywhere – there are three games a night. Admission is $5, while “kids shorter than the picture of Dustin Byfuglien are allowed in for free,” as noted by Russo. L.A. alum Mark Parrish coaches Aspire, while Zach Trotman plays for Alex Goligoski-captained Velocity Hockey, Davis Drewiske wears the colors of Walser Automotive, and University of Minnesota-based defensive prospect Steve Johnson plays for RBC. Rosters are populated heavily by Minnesota-based players.
THIS HAPPENED. Tyler Toffoli, who has remained in Southern California for the second straight off-season, snapped some pucks at Nick Cannon at the 2016 Kids’ Choice Sports Awards. Video, courtesy of Nickelodeon, is here.
SUNSET SIP. Jim Fox’s annual fundraiser for The Guidance Center that doubles as a celebration for wine returns to the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach on Saturday, September 10. Follow the link below for more details and to purchase tickets.
— The Guidance Center (@TGC_LB) July 12, 2016