Kings no longer using Yellow Pages to find defenseman

Deslauriers – Rookie Camp, day one

During the 2006-07 NHL season, Dean Lombardi‘s first year at the helm in Los Angeles, Kevin Dallman and Mike Weaver combined to play 92 games on the Kings blueline.

While I’m sure that wasn’t what Lombardi was thinking about as he stood and watched part of Rookie Camp today from the Kings bench, he almost assuredly was smiling inside watching Jake Muzzin and Nic Deslauriers.

They’re two of the brightest young stars in the organization. Entirely different players on the ice, they share the same problem away from it.

With a solid six d-core at the NHL level, when will they ever get their shot to make the big club?

That remains to be seen. However, it hasn’t kept either from coming to camp with the right attitude. Here are comments from both following tonight’s on-ice session…

Deslauriers – “It felt great to be on the ice today. It was amazing to be out there and just to get the rust out. It was a good first day…I trained almost seven days a week this summer – only saving a little bit of time for golf…The ‘Q’ (QMJHL) is behind me. I’m at the age where I can play in the AHL now. So, I’m trying to make a place there, that’s what I want – to build on what I did in the ‘Q’ and jump to the next level.”

On the possible dual with Muzzin for the pseudo-award of ‘best defenseman in camp, he shared these remarks – “I have to do the same thing I usually do. If you try to do to much, that’s when you shoot a hole in your foot (note: I know the expression is ‘you shoot yourself in the foot’ – but, it sounds so much better when coming in broken English from somebody with an accent!). So, I just try to play my game. For sure, there’s a little bit of competition. But, I don’t make it too much and I just try to be friendly with Muzzin. He can also give me a lot of tips. He’s a few years older than me. So, even just talking with him can help me a lot.”

And Muzzin shared similar thoughts, as well – “I just have to go out and play my game. If I start to complicate things, I get into trouble. I have to play physical, move the puck, get shots through and keep it simple.”

However, he did admit to thinking and strategize a bit on occasion. “You think about how to get an edge on someone and all that. But, when it comes down to it, you have to play your game. I can’t try to play like Drew Doughty or any of those guys. I have to come out and be who I am and play how I’ve been playing my whole life and what’s gotten me here. It’s a cliche, but you just keep trying to get better everyday and you hope some day you get your shot.”

Unlike most of the other guys I spoke with on Saturday, who talked about an increased level of comfort when they’ve been to LA for at least one camp previously, Muzzin went a different direction when talking about it.

“It’s still tough though – the testing, the skates, everything is hard.”

Finally, Muzzin offered a response to Toffoli saying he was one of the guys who helped show him the ropes in Manchester last season – “Seeing an OHL guy coming into Manchester, we went through the same thing as young kids coming in from junior the year before – coming out of the playoffs then right into Manchester. So, we (he and Jordan Nolan) helped him out. It was just the right thing to do really. It’s not like we were going out of our way to help him. It was just like giving him rides, giving him whatever he needed to get by. Really, it’s just being a good friend.”

Like, giving him lunch money?

“I did actually do that,” Muzzin said while laughing.

FYI – I’ll have live coverage throughout the day from HockeyFest on Sunday. You can follow along at the links below.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the all new MayorsManor rankings of the Top 10 LA Kings prospects – it just published yesterday.

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John Hoven is a member of the of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and co-hosts Kings of the Podcast. He is also the founder and editor of MayorsManor.com, which has been named Best Sports Blog in Los Angeles by LA Weekly and Hockey Blog of the Year by Yahoo Sports. Click "ABOUT OUR TEAM" above for a full bio.