24 hours ago, it was the day before Thanksgiving.
The LA Kings recently wrapped up their first of two practice days this week, as they prepare for games this weekend against Anaheim and Montreal. Following a team meeting, most players prepared to head home, presumably to spend time with friends and family, but for Kevin Fiala, he’s got a few hours left yet at the rink, with the second Fiala’s Friends camp being held yesterday afternoon at Toyota Sports Performance Center.
While it’s the second camp he’s run on the ice, it’s far from the second time he’s gotten involved in the local community. Trips to the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles are a regular for Fiala, on his own time, as are post-game meet and greets with young fans who Fiala invites out to games as a part of a wider initiative he’s done, dating back even to the end of last season. Fiala is regularly engaging in the local community, whether it be on the ice or just on his own time. He’s not doing it for the clout, but people are taking notice anyways.
“I’m not on social media but my wife has it and she pulled up a picture the other day of Kev playing checkers with kids at the hospital and that, for me, means as much as him scoring two goals in a game,” Todd McLellan said of Fiala’s community involvement. “It’s just so important and he gets it. A lot of our guys do, but Kev finds a way to get out with the kids. During warmups, you see him [fist bump] all of the kids, make them happy and he gets it. That’s something that we should all be proud of.”
Yesterday, it was an on-ice camp, run by Fiala, alongside Daryl Evans and members of the Kings hockey development team.
We typically cover the on-ice performance of the Kings here on LAKI, but there’s also an off-ice component for these players as well that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.
Fiala ran his first camp back in August, when he came to the LA area during the offseason to get on the ice with local youth hockey players to teach them the game and help grow the game in our area. He admitted he was a bit more nervous this time around, holding the camp without the help of his on-ice trainer, but that’s not what the youth hockey players he’s teaching will see. It’s all about the impact he’s making on young hockey players in the area and that makes it all worth it for Fiala.
“It’s very fun, very exciting, a little bit nervous this time without my trainer, Andreas, so it will be a little challenging for me, but it’s very fun,” Fiala said. “It’s a good thing to do, I feel like, for a charity and the kids are having fun, so that’s the most important thing.”
Growing up in Switzerland, Fiala called his dad and his grandfather supportive figures for him growing up, showing him the way as a younger player. He didn’t necessarily have camps like this offered to him, though. Through strong influences in his family, he’s certainly making an impact himself on the next generation, delivering resources, time and energy towards the community he’s now a part of.
Throughout his career, community involvement is something that’s been important to Fiala. Now that he’s arrived in Los Angeles, committing to the Kings for seven seasons, he’s trying to do his best to be involved in causes that are important to him. Both on and off the ice, working with children and trying to make a difference in their lives is what matters most to him. Between all of the different things Fiala is doing, that’s a central focus and something he’s certainly been making a difference through all of his commitment.
“I’ve always wanted to do something, I’m a big fan of the Children’s Hospital and stuff like that, so I’ve been visiting there,” Fiala added. “The camp is a new thing, I’ve always wanted to do that and put the money into charity. It’s always been a thought, but it’s a new thing for me this year.”
We’ll undoubtedly see more involvement from Fiala as the season goes on, even if it’s not as publicly recognized as the Fiala’s Friends camp. These are regular things he’s doing, without the recognition, and that’s perhaps what makes it all that much better.
On a day of thanks, Fiala’s Friends is certainly something we should all be thankful for.