For over a decade, there was little, if any, dispute as to who the No. 1 netminder for the Los Angeles Kings was.
From being an all-star to winning two Stanley Cups, as well as the Conn Smythe Trophy, to setting Kings’ individual records, Jonathan Quick has rightfully established himself as one of the premier goaltenders in the National Hockey League.
Jack Campbell (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

While he still may be the No. 1 man in the Kings’ goal, though, the 2019-20 season might mark a changing of the guard in Los Angeles. That statement isn’t a detriment to Quick or his play but rather a testament to the strong contingent in the Kings’ goal. One of those netminders, Jack Campbell, fresh off signing a new two-year extension with the club, is ready to make his case this coming season.
Recently, I spoke with Kings’ goaltending coach, Bill Ranford, who has been instrumental in Campbell’s development, which includes his admirable play last season while the aforementioned Quick was injured.
“I was not surprised by Jack’s play last year,” Ranford said. “Every day he is working at his game on the ice to get better, and he took advantage of his opportunity to play in games while Quick was injured. The attention to detail both on and off the ice will prepare him for the upcoming season.”
While his 10-14-1 record in 2018-19 may not seem like much to write home about, Campbell proved that he was better than said record may have indicated. In fact, the 27-year-old amassed a 2.30 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage to go in hand with a pair of shutouts. Not bad for taking the reigns — albeit temporarily — from a premiere NHL netminder.
“He has put in a lot of time both on and off the ice to make himself better,” Ranford stressed. “He made the commitment to stay in L.A. during the offseason to work with [Kings’ head strength and conditioning coach] Matt Price and improve his overall body composition to prepare himself for the season.”
Bill Ranford (Photo credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images North America)

While Campbell has certainly elevated his game while earning himself a new contract, Ranford knows that Jonathan Quick, in spite of his 16-23-7 record last season, is simply too good to relinquish his starting job anytime soon.
Jack has the opportunity to be a No. 1 at some point, but I am not going to question Jonathan Quick’s ability to play because of one-off year,” the goaltending coach said matter-of-factly. “He has been the backbone of the organization for many years and is such a competitor, he will rebound to the goalie that we know he is. Jack just has to continue to prove that he can play consistent hockey in the NHL and he will get his opportunity.”
While he has turned a positive corner in his game, Campbell’s start in the NHL wasn’t as noteworthy as he may have wished.
Drafted 11th overall by the Dallas Stars in 2010, the native of Port Huron, MI, had enormous expectations thrust upon him. Unfortunately, in his six seasons with the organization, Campbell played just one game with Dallas, spending the majority of his tenure in the AHL. As disheartening as his time with the Stars may have been, though, Campbell was given a second chance in Southern California, and fans can rest assured that the 6-foot-2 backstop is making that chance count.
“Jack went through some disappointing years in Dallas,” Ranford admitted. “He has been excited about getting a new lease on life in L.A. and he has taken advantage of it, [earning himself] a new two-year extension. Jack’s attitude is about getting better every day, controlling what he can control. The head coach decides who plays and that will never change. Both Quick and Campbell will be focused on one thing: getting our team back in the playoffs.”
Jack Campbell (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

It would be naive to suggest that goaltenders don’t have to work too hard to become starters but that is quite all right with Jack Campbell.
While it may not be uncommon for former high draft picks to retire after a few underachieving years, going down without a fight is certainly uncommon for Campbell.
Traded to Los Angeles from Dallas for Nick Ebert in June 2016, Campbell, as Bill Ranford put it, got a new lease on life with his new club and while he may have continued in the AHL, last season has shown that there is definitely room for the one they call “Soupy” to bring his game to a new level.
In Bill Ranford’s 13 years as the Kings’ goaltending coach, he has helped develop the skills of, and instilled confidence in, a plethora of netminders such as Jonathan Bernier, Martin Jones, and Darcy Kuemper. Be sure to add Campbell to that list.
If he does not get an opportunity to be the Kings starter this season, Jack Campbell at least has the wherewithal to fill in when needed. Nevertheless, his new lease on life, with the help of Ranford’s tutelage, may very well lead Jack Campbell further than he’s ever been in his NHL career.
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