Kings President Luc Robitaille was back home in Quebec on Tuesday morning. It wasn’t a personal trip either — no word yet if he drove the sprinter van there, however — he was in town on business.
At a press conference with various area officials, Robitaille announced the Kings will not only hold part of their 2024 training camp at the local arena, they’ll also play two preseason games, one each against the Boston Bruins (Oct. 3) and Florida Panthers (Oct. 5).
“I’m very pleased to be able to wind up our preseason schedule at the Videotron Centre,” Robitaille stated.
Of course, part of the reasoning behind the trip to Quebec City is simply comes down to logistics. Their home building in Los Angeles will be under construction during this time period, going through the final phase of a multi-year renovation.
“With the third year of our renovation, we aren’t going to have preseason games available to us at Crypto.com Arena, so the opportunity to partner with the city of Quebec was a great opportunity,” AEG Sports COO Kelly Cheeseman told MayorsManor. “Obviously, the Kings have a long tradition of playing games out of market to grow the game of hockey. While Quebec doesn’t specifically fit that criteria, they’re still an awesome fan base, a great market, and the opportunity to go there and have games at that arena was special to us. It also solves a problem when it comes to scheduling our pre-season games.”
One of the other reasons is money — or at least it doesn’t hurt. According to information shared at the press conference, Quebec has offered the Kings a $5M USD (roughly $7M Canadian) grant toward games to be held at the Videotron Centre. This will help offset the loss of ticket sales and other income streams connected with games held in LA.
Originally opened in September 2015, the Videotron Centre was built with hopes of attracting a potential NHL franchise. While a few NHL games have taken place there through the years, it currently serves as home to the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL).
“I know how passionate Québec City fans are about the game. We will be very proud to play here next fall,” said Robitaille. “Fans will be able to see our stars and watch young players compete for a spot in our 2024-25 line-up.”
Some of those stars will obviously include fellow Quebec natives Phil Danault and PL Dubois. Defenseman Jordan Spence played his junior hockey in the Quebec league (and was named Rookie of the Year in 2019 and Defenseman of the Year in 2021), after spending his teenage years in Prince Edward Island. Interestingly, as a member of the Moncton Wildcats, he only played one game per season in the Videotron Centre due to conference alignment.
Currently, the Kings only have one prospect in their pipeline with ties to the Quebec league, defenseman Angus Booth (drafted in 2022). Considering next year’s preseason games come at the end of training camp, he probably won’t still be with the Kings at that time. Even though he’s expected to turn pro next summer, Booth most likely will have most been assigned to the Ontario Reign by that point of camp.
In advance of the matchups against Boston and Florida, coach Todd McLellan will have his team in Quebec City for training camp from Oct. 2-6. Their time there will include at least one open practice, along with clinics and other player appearances. This schedule should be more to McLellan’s liking, as it’s coming at the end of camp, rather than the beginning like it was in Australia this year.
“Scheduling all the games, whether we’re talking regular season or preseason games, are always a puzzle,” Cheeseman noted. “In putting those together, we always consult with Blakey and Todd and the group to see what’s optimum. Sometimes the coach gets exactly what he wants and sometimes things don’t work in that favor. We always try to consider what’s best for the team, though. I think the team had a great time in Australia and they’ve really bonded together as a group. We’re happy with how that’s coming together, but we recognize travel is never easy any time of the year. Any time the team can be together, isolated on the road, with those opportunities to bond, have dinners, extra activities, little breakouts for the guys where they spend time with new teammates or old teammates together, unique connections, that’s what builds a team into a championship contender. We know that.”
The timing of going to Quebec will also have a few smaller ripple effects. For example, the annual preseason game in Salt Lake City comes to mind. LA’s multi-year contract for that game expired last month. However, as we reported several weeks ago, talks of a new deal are underway and, from what we understand, Frozen Fury is expected to take place again. Overall, preseason contests usually begin around Sept. 23 and feature a total of 6-8 games. Beyond the pair of games in Quebec City, the Kings 2024 preseason schedule will likely include road games in Anaheim, San Jose, and Vegas, per the usual rotation. Plus, at least one neutral site game is typically in the offering.
As for the Kings games at Videotron Centre, we would expect the team to somehow find a way to include two other legends as part of the festivities, Rogie Vachon and Marcel Dionne. Both are in the Hockey Hall of Fame for their accomplishments on the ice, while the former also served the organization as a coach and General Manager. Dionne was previously named as one of the ‘100 Greatest NHL Players’ in league history.
Other French-Canadian players with previous ties to the Kings include forward Eric Belanger and goaltender Stephane Fiset.
Finally, following up on another somewhat related topic… recently on Kings Of The Podcast, we discussed the possibility of the Kings playing games in Mexico City at some point in the near future. From what we understand, there is a preference in some circles for that event to feature four teams, similar to how the NHL handles the Global Series in Europe. Two of the natural partners there would be the Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes. Most likely, the Anaheim Ducks would want in on something like this too. According to several people we’ve talked with recently, pulling this off is going to take more time and won’t be happening until at least the 2025-26 season.
Tickets for the games in Quebec will go on sale this Friday, with a presale taking place on Thursday here.
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