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LOS ANGELES: NHL training camps opened yesterday, drawing large crowds of fans in some cities and revealing the changes underway as the 30 teams prepare for the start of the lockout-shortened season on Saturday.
The reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings began their quest to repeat by walking past a replica of the Stanley Cup as they headed to the ice at Staples Center arena.
Just moments before the first practice the players learned that teammate Kevin Westgarth had been traded to the Carolina Hurricanes.
“We lived together in Manchester (when on the Kings’ farm team),” said Stanley Cup finals Most Valuable Player Jonathan Quick, who had off-season back surgery. “He is a close friend. I wish him the best.”
Forward Dustin Penner said getting back on the ice with his teammates made him feel like his old self again.
“It is nice to have a routine and a bit of meaning to our lives now,” Penner said. “It is right back to work.”
The Kings will raise their first Stanley Cup championship banner to the rafters of Staple Center when they open the season Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“It is going to be exciting for the team and a great honour for the city,” said Kings’ player Jordan Nolan.
The Kings are hoping to finish the season as the NHL’s first repeat champions since the Detroit Red Wings captured back-to-back titles 1998 and 1997.
Most teams practised yesterday morning for the first time including the St Louis Blues who worked out in front of 5,700 fans.
The four-month old lockout ended Saturday after the owners and players signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the major issues agreed for their new collective bargaining agreement.
The deal salvaged a shortened season of 48 games per team. AFP