As LA Kings training camp kicks off, there is plenty to look forward to. That include’s the club’s top free-agent signing, Phillip Danault.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — For each of the 32 NHL teams, it is great to be back in the swing of things. Entering training camp, the LA Kings are among the more intriguing teams to watch for, and the club and their ever-loyal fanbase are no less excited to get things going. One of the reasons why is the arrival of a new face: the club’s most heralded off-season free-agent signing, Phillip Danault.
After a season that saw him help the Montreal Canadiens to an unexpected Stanley Cup Final berth, Phillip Danault entered the off-season as one of the most sought-after free agents — more for his solid defensive prowess than anything else. Nevertheless, once Danault became available, the LA Kings did not hesitate to jump at the opportunity to land the 28-year-old.
The Kings signed Danault to a six-year, $5.5 million deal and while there were some mixed reactions about the length and the amount of that deal, the excitement for the new season was palpable. Now, with the opening of training camp upon us, the start of the season is just around the corner, as Kings players prepare for a fresh new start.
Among those attendees at training camp is none other than Mr. Danault himself, who spoke with the media following Day 1 of camp.
“Yeah, I think we had a really good pace,” Danault said of how he and his new team gelled on the ice. “You can tell the guys are ready and they want to battle right away. And that first day was definitely a good cardio test for all of us, but yeah, I think everyone’s in good shape.”
Since his signing in late July, Danault’s name has been mentioned as a part of multiple potential lines.
With no shortage of depth up front, the Kings have a number of options on who to pair with Danault this season. The Kings’ new centerman was asked whether he spoke with his new head coach, Todd McLellan, about who his potential linemates will be.
“We did talk about it a little bit, but not really,” Danault admitted. “Hockey’s changed a lot and fast and I guess the more we’ll go forward, the better– the more we’ll know as well for our winger. But yeah, right now, we’re just trying to get the system in and not thinking too much.”
As far as communication goes with his new teammates, Danault is satisfied thus far.
“Yeah, it’s getting, obviously, a little more every day,” noted the former Canadien. “Today was the first day playing a game, as well, so yeah, I think [it was] a big win for us. So, I get the energy going and [having the positivity] around, so it’s good to get that one out of the way.”
As for his memories of battling the club as an opponent, the Victoriaville, Que., native admitted that facing the Kings came with some challenges.
“Yeah, I think they were always a team [that were] hard to play, especially when it was [with] Montreal,” Danault said. “We come in here, it’s always hard to play in California. So, definitely a hard team to play and obviously, they had a lot of young guys in the system and faces changed a little bit, but they kept the great corps to have and those veterans bring in a lot of experience and yeah, I think it’s– I’m proud to be here.”
One day of training camp is now in the books with the LA Kings off to as good a start as they could hope for. The same can be said for Phillip Danault, who seems to be fitting in just fine with his new teammates.