Daily News Darcy Kuemper welcomes ‘fresh start’ with the Kings


They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
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For a player seeking a fresh start and a clean slate, a loofah and some body soap might not be the worst items to have in hand.

Newly acquired Kings goalie Darcy Kuemper shook off a few suds to hear the news Wednesday that he had been sent to Los Angeles in exchange for Pierre-Luc Dubois.

“I was taking a shower and my wife came and grabbed me and said, ‘I think we got traded,’” Kuemper said. “It was a strange way to find out, it was a lot to process, but we’re both really excited for the move.”

For both players in the swap, a new environment could produce better results.

The 34-year-old Kuemper’s numbers ballooned and his playing time shriveled as a Washington Capital in 2023-24, just one season removed from signing the most lucrative contract of his career and two years after he quaffed the bubbly from Lord Stanley’s Cup with the Colorado Avalanche.

“Hockey-wise, it was really tough,” said Kuemper, who also experienced the birth of his first child early in the campaign. “It was really frustrating, at times. We weren’t winning as many games as I would like, and not playing as much, that’s always tough to deal with.”

Kuemper fared better in his first season in Washington, making 56 starts. That ability to carry a heavy workload could come in handy, though he will likely get plenty of relief from David Rittich, whom the Kings turned to frequently after a midseason call-up last year.

“I’m looking forward to the fresh start next year and getting back to playing how I like to play, proving that last year was just a one-off, getting a bunch of wins and helping the team,” Kuemper said.

The Saskatoon native has considerable familiarity with Southern California, the Kings and their director of goaltending, Bill Ranford. He made 19 appearances for the Kings in the 2017-18 season, playing behind Jonathan Quick before being traded to the Arizona Coyotes, opening the door for Jack Campbell as Quick’s backup and allowing Kuemper to become a starter.

“I had a short stint but I loved my time there and it was really tough to have it be so short because of how much I enjoyed the organization, living there [and] playing with the guys, so I’m really excited to be back,” Kuemper said.

Kuemper said he was enthused by the quality of the Kings’ roster and that he felt he could be a “stabilizing force in the net.”

While consistency has eluded him somewhat, Kuemper has turned in a pair of superb campaigns in his career as a starter, with the Coyotes in 2018-19 and with Colorado in ‘22 when the Avs hoisted the Cup.

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“Once you get a taste of that, you want to do it again,” Kuemper said. “I believe that I’m good enough to join a team that’s capable of winning a Cup. I just want to come in, provide stable goaltending and do my part to help them achieve that.”

Kuemper said the run with Colorado was edifying on a personal level and in terms of understanding what it requires for a team to ascend to the highest peak.

“They truly are the greatest moments of your life. I’m so blessed to have had the chance to go through those. I learned a lot about myself; I learned a lot about the guys I was playing with,” Kuemper said. “That’s an experience that’s really invaluable, and I just want to be able to do it again.”

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