Every time the most insane thing has happened over the past 14 months — not just hockey related, but throughout life in general — it was best to just wait a few hours because something else usually came along and found a way to top the original moment.
In Game 56, the final event of the LA Kings 2021 regular season, is slated to feature one of the most mind-blowing turns… and yet it’s an incredible feel-good-story that is desperately needed after what went down between the Avs and Kings on Wednesday night.
Drake Rymsha is slated to play in his very first NHL hockey game.
Normally, for those unfamiliar with Rymsha, we’d quickly catch you up on the 2017 NHL draft pick and wrap up the story with a quick bow. This is just too improbable, though.
After being selected by the Kings in the fifth round, Rymsha spent his the next season as an over-ager in the OHL. Since turning pro, he’s spent more time in the ECHL than the AHL. As a rookie in 2018-19, Rymsha suited up for 35 games with the ECHL’s Manchester Monarchs and saw time in 26 games with AHL Ontario. In his 13th game with the Reign, coming in November 2018, he scored his first AHL goal.
Last season, he again was more active two levels down from the NHL, playing 24 games with Fort Wayne (ECHL) and adding another 11 games with the Reign. He recorded one assist in the AHL during 2019-20.
This year, he has played just one game anywhere. Most of the year, he’s been on the Kings taxi squad. However, he went down to the Reign and played vs. Bakersfield on March 6.
Over the past three years as a pro, that brings his AHL totals to 38 games played with a single goal.
Tonight, he will wear No. 43 and make his NHL debut on the LA Kings second line.
It could be a lot of things.
For starters, it’s a situation made possible due to an injury to another Kings forward, that created an opening on the roster and allowed LA to recall him on an emergency basis.
Why the second line, as a right winger to Gabe Vilardi and Lias Andersson?
Well, that’s a different story.
Perhaps it’s a thank you to the ultimate taxi squad player. Rymsha practiced all season and just hasn’t seen the ice in a competitive situation.
Perhaps it’s Todd McLellan’s way of sending a message to a group of players he really wasn’t happy with last night.
Perhaps it’s a nice parting gift to Rymsha, who most likely won’t be tendered a qualifying offer this summer, meaning he will be allowed to leave the organization as a free agent.
One thing it will most definitely be is a special moment for the Rymsha family. Drake’s dad, Andrew, was a career minor leaguer. He played in over 500 games in a myriad of different places throughout North America and Europe, Andrew also played six games for the Quebec Nordiques in early 1992 — yes, the same franchise his son will face tonight in Colorado.
As if that’s not enough. One of those six NHL games for Andrew Rymsha came against the LA Kings at the Forum.
There are believed to be about 200 combinations of fathers and sons who can both say they played in the NHL — a list that includes Kings connections via Syl Apps Jr., Jordan Nolan, and Jeff Chychrun.
Tonight will be a very special night for the Rymsha family, as they add their names to this illustrious honor.
UPDATE: Comments from Rymsha added here.
— Steve “Dangle” Glynn (@Steve_Dangle) May 14, 2021
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