Coming off of last night’s win over Ottawa, the Kings returned to practice earlier today at Toyota Sports Performance Center.
Up front, the Kings had all 13 of their forwards on the ice, though the status of Brendan Lemieux moving forward will likely dictate if any additional changes are necessary. Following *that* situation, Lemieux will be offered an in-person hearing, via Zoom, with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. From there, we’ll await a decision from the league on any potential supplemental discipline from last night’s game, possibly before the Kings return to action on Tuesday against Anaheim.
Los Angeles’ Brendan Lemieux has been offered an in-person hearing via Zoom for Biting Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk. Date and time TBD.
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) November 28, 2021
Todd McLellan touched on the situation this morning regarding Lemieux, noting that the two men spoke between his post-game press conference last night and today’s practice. McLellan emphasized that he feels – and the team feels – that Lemieux is appreciated by the Kings for the job that he does protecting his teammates.
“I spoke to Brendan, we talked about him taking care of his teammates and how much we appreciate it,” McLellan said. “He’s got a team full of supporters today that are happy he’s a part of the group and he does his job and he does it very well.”
Following the game, Ottawa forward Brady Tkachuk made his now widely-distributed comments on the situation that occurred late in the third period, among other things. McLellan indicated that he heard “snippets” of what Tkachuk said after the game, but deferred to what people here with the Kings say about Lemieux, as opposed to what people outside the locker room say.
“What’s important is what we say about Brendan and what we think about Brendan and that’s pretty clear in our locker room.”
Speaking of those inside the locker room, goaltender Jonathan Quick was……well, quick to speak about his teammate during today’s media availabilities and address last night’s situation, and Lemieux overall.
“I have my own opinion about what happened, or did not happen last night, and what I can tell you is that any comments that were made about Pep were garbage,” Quick said. “He’s a valuable player who sticks up for his teammates. We all support him and I’d rather have him on my team over that kid any day of the week.”
More to follow on Lemieux as information comes out.
Other Notes From Today –
A Quinton Byfield sighting! Byfield joined the full group today for the first time since he suffered a right-ankle fracture during the preseason. Wearing a red, non-contact jersey, Byfield took his first practice of the regular season with the club. Still on injured reserve, we’re obviously not overly close to having him as an option to return to the lineup, but seeing him back with the group today was an incredibly welcomed sign for sure.
“It’s great to have him back, I think he’s excited about being out there,” McLellan said. “It’s a new experience for him as a pro player, to have this type of layoff in a full season and then come back and be ready to train for it. The easy part was the rehab that the machines took care of, that the massage guy could take care of, now it’s on Quinton to get himself ready. We’re pushing him hard to understand that. Sometimes, as an 18-year-old, it’s hard to understand that, but we want to really push him outside his comfort zone so he can be the best player he can be when he comes back in the lineup.”
McLellan also talked about the influence that Drew Doughty, another rehabbing individual, has had on Byfield in his own process. Doughty joined Byfield in the rehab room in late-October, with Byfield then close to a month into his own recovery process.
While noting that Doughty has fortunately enough been pretty healthy throughout his career, and he hasn’t had a situation like this before, his presence alongside Byfield in the process has been beneficial for both players, especially the young centerman.
“It was good, because I think Drew has been around enough to witness individuals come back, and the amount of hard work they had to do. Drew’s never, knock on wood, really been hurt, so it was new for him too. To have each other, in the gym in particular, to push in those situations, it’s valuable to have somebody around you and give you a little bit of encouragement. Had either of them been on their own, it would have been better for the team, but maybe not for their recovery.”
Speaking Of Doughty…..
Doughty partnered Mikey Anderson this morning, which is the next sign in his recovery process. Even in a full-contact jersey, Doughty had skated on the team’s fourth pairing over the last few days, which coincided with him not playing. Now, Doughty reassumed his regular position alongside Anderson, with Edler – Roy, Bjornfot – Durzi and Maatta – Clague the other defensive pairings.
We’ll get further clarity tomorrow on how that impacts Doughty’s status for Tuesday’s tilt with Anaheim, but certainly another step in the right direction for number eight.
On October 30, Carl Grundstrom was not in the lineup, as the Kings skated to a 5-2 win over Montreal. The next day, Grundstrom was not scheduled to play, until a pre-game COVID situation forced forward Viktor Arvidsson out of the lineup shortly after warmups, working Grundstrom in on the team’s third line. Grundstrom responded by scoring against Buffalo in a one-goal victory.
Fast forward to last night. Grundstrom, again, did not play the game before, this the 6-2 loss versus Toronto. While there was a bit of a different background – he was scheduled to check back in versus Ottawa – the result was the same. Grundstrom got a goal in a Kings victory. The straight-line winger scored the go-ahead goal in the second period, followed by the empty-net tally.
“He’s taking advantage of an opportunity,” McLellan said “If you think about his goal, he was driving to the net and he didn’t even shoot the puck, it kind of went off of him and in, and that’s a real good thing, we want him in that position, and then the empty netter coming out of the penalty box. Those are all good things and Grunny’s been a good player for us.”
McLellan has said, on several occasions, that Grundstrom was not out of the lineup due to his own play. While he had a slow training camp, once he got going, Grundstrom has impressed the coaching staff in his 13 games played this season. His five goals from those 13 games are a solid total for a player who has featured almost exclusively on the third and fourth lines, until last night.
”He got pushed out of the lineup and we went on a good winning streak, then when we came back here, we were working others into the lineup,” McLellan said. “It shows well on him, and on Lias, that they continued to do their homework when they weren’t in the lineup, and they’re effective when they come back in.”
Hear from the man himself following today’s team practice.
The Kings are back on the ice tomorrow morning at 11 AM from Toyota Sports Performance Center.