On June 24, 2010 a small group of teenage boys stepped onto the ice at Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, CA. Like many of the kids who play there on a regular basis, Tyler Seguin was still unsure of what his future held. However, things were about to radically change. The NHL Draft was being held the next day at Staples Center and he was set to be taken very early. First or second overall, that was the only real question.
“When we pulled in here it was kind of funny, I had all these flashbacks,” said Seguin, talking about his return to TSC on Friday for a mid-afternoon practice. “The last time I was in this building was the day before my draft with Taylor Hall and Cam Folwer. So, from that standpoint, it’s pretty special to be here.”
He ended up being selected by Boston with the second pick, right after Edmonton took Hall. Now 20 years old, Seguin arrived in town as the leading goal scorer (26) and points producer (60) for the defending Stanley Cup Champions. And while his Bruins may have lost a 2-1 game in San Jose the night before, that didn’t stop them from going through a rigorous one-hour practice.
He’s made one visit to Staples Center since the draft, last January’s 2-0 loss to the Kings – where Ryan Smyth and Andrei Loktionov scored goals. While neither of those players will factor in tonight’s outcome, as they’re no longer on the Kings roster, Seguin and his teammates will be facing the same guy in net, Jonathan Quick.
“We know LA are in and out of the playoffs right now, I think they’re third or ninth. It’s kind of funny how that happens.” said Seguin. “But, we’re expecting a playoff-like game and a great atmosphere. Similar to what we had versus the Sharks. But, hopefully, we’ll be more prepared against LA this time.”
For the Kings, they’ll be looking to keep their current six-game winning streak alive, as well as solidify their spot atop the Pacific Division. They might also be looking for a little bit of redemption after dropping a game in Boston back in December. It was a strange game, one in which the Kings put 41 shots on goal against Tuukka Rask and only gave up 22 shots, but lost 3-0. Adding to the weirdness, coach Terry Murray was dismissed earlier that day. So, assistant coach John Stevens was running things for the night.
A lot has changed for the Kings since then and it’s not something lost on Seguin – “Everyone pays attention to the other side as well (the Western Conference), especially when you know you’re coming out for a West Coast trip.”
Regardless of the outcome th, it will be a special night for at least one Bruin, Zdeno Chara will be playing in his 1,000th NHL game.
“He’s done a lot of little things to help me,” Seguin shared. “At the times I needed to be talked to and given some advice, about both on and off the ice stuff, he was that guy who would pay attention and see that I was having a couple of off games and maybe something was wrong. He’s the type of guy who knows those things. He’d be the first guy to come and lean on my shoulder and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on? What’s up?’ So, I think he’s definitely the ideal true leader and the reason why he’s our captain.’
[NOTE: We also posted an interview with Chara here this morning, talking about some memories vs. the Kings, etc.]