Penner says Moreau adds more leadership to the LA Kings

If you’re a free agent hockey player still looking for a job, here’s a word to the wise – put your stats away for now and hold up a sign that says ‘have letter, will travel.’

That is, if you have one.

LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi has been collecting former captains and assistants this summer – from Mike Richards and Simon Gagne, to his latest signee, Ethan Moreau.

Yes, he’s another former Oiler – joining Dustin Penner, Matt Greene and Jarret Stoll among others.

However, Moreau is also the former captain in Edmonton, something Penner thinks shouldn’t go unnoticed.

“He’s captained a Canadian franchise, in a market that can be hard to play in,” began Penner when we spoke by phone yesterday afternoon. “He’s a great addition to our team and I think he’s an important piece of the puzzle.”

Although they were last in the same dressing room during the 2009-10 season, Penner said – “I’ve been in regular contact with him since the day we stopped playing together.”

In fact, they’ve spoken several times over the last few weeks and Moreau sent Penner a text right after he caught wind he was going to be with the Kings.

At this point in his career, Moreau is a guy who will be looked to for more than goals and assists. And Penner understands why.

“He’s great in the locker room,” Penner said of his former Oilers teammate. “His work ethic, his competitiveness and skill are all assets that any team can use. He’s a really funny guy, with great character. He’s a pleasure to be around a pleasure to play with. He also brings grit and determination. So, I’m pretty happy we got him.”

Penner was also quick to point out that Moreau understands how to help ease younger players into the National Hockey League.

“To be a captain,” he explained, “your leadership capabilities have to span across different generations. So, he was great with the younger Oilers players. I think if you asked the young guys in Edmonton, they’d have nothing bad to say about him. He’s very helpful. He was a hands on captain. You could talk to him, you could approach him and he’s very good at deciphering what a coach is trying to get across to a young guy.”

It may not be Edmonton, yet Los Angeles was a rough place to play towards the end of last season too. However, that didn’t sour Penner towards anything he might have shared with Moreau about joining the Kings.

“I think we’re a team that’s right on the cusp of being a Stanley Cup team, going deep into the playoffs,” Penner said, with plenty of excitement in his voice. “We have all the tools, especially with (adding Richards and Gagne) this summer. It’s similar to where we were with the Ducks my first year. We were almost there, but we weren’t quite there. Then, we made some acquisitions in the off-season and the next year we won it all. So, there are some similarities as far as that goes. Now it depends on us players and coaches and how we put it all together on the ice.”

Penner’s made a few visits to MayorsManor this off-season (links at the end of this article), and as he stated then, he’s dedicated this summer to getting in the best shape possible.

“I’ve been skating now for about a month, both in Orange County and up at TSC (in El Segundo),” said Penner. “So, before camp opens, I’ll be putting in another two or three weeks of workouts to get ready for the season. I can’t wait for the off-season to be over!”

What about his jersey number – with Alexei Ponikarovsky no longer on the roster, will Penner be switching back to his more familiar #27?

“I don’t know yet,” he shared. “I heard Marty (Alec Martinez) might go to #27, which doesn’t bother me. But, we kinda want him to go with #55 for Cinco de Mayo. So, it depends on Marty.”

Vaya para él Marty!

The Mayor
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