They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
- Jul 28, 2004
Thursday’s late afternoon will bring some changes for the LA Kings.
First off, practices usually start before noon, so simply by starting the day at 2pm it’s going to feel a little different.
Second, and probably the more impactful point of the day, is there will be a new head coach running the drills.
Last Thursday night, GM Rob Blake went to Todd McLellan’s house. After more than an hour of conversation, it was over. McLellan’s nearly five-year run in LA had come to an end. The following morning, it was announced that assistant coach Jim Hiller had been elevated to interim head coach for the balance of LA’s 2023-24 season.
Day One of that new beginning will officially begin with a practice later this afternoon — the team’s first on-ice activity since claiming a 4-2 victory over the Predators in Music City last Wednesday.
In advance of the Kings skating in El Segundo today (and prior to the Ontario Reign practicing at 11am), look for the Kings to recall center Alex Turcotte and defenseman Brandt Clarke.
The former was initially recalled during the Kings last road trip, and was immediately inserted into the lineup for a 4-3 overtime loss at St. Louis.
Three nights later in Nashville, the 22-year-old forward scored his first NHL goal – a moment several years in the making, after the Kings selected him fifth overall at the 2019 NHL Draft.
Turcotte spoke about the experience during an interview on Friday in Ontario, where he rejoined the Reign for a pair of back-to-back games over the weekend:
Clarke had an even more adventurous weekend. Not only did he too draw in for a pair of games with the Reign last Friday and Saturday, he then headed up to San Jose for the AHL All-Star Game.
Oh, and he had a fight in his last game with Ontario.
For more on Clarke at the AHL All Star Skills competition, see here.
In 32 games for coach Marco Sturm and the Reign, Clarke has posted 33 points (8G, 25A). In addition to his point-per-game pace as a rookie, those 33 points lead all defenseman in the league — despite the fact Clarke has played seven fewer games than the guy directly behind him on the leader board. Among all AHL rookie skaters, regardless of position, Clarke ranks second in assists, third in points, and third in points-per-game.
Meanwhile, Turcotte has posted 24 points (7G, 17A) in 30 AHL games with Ontario this season. He’s expected to center LA’s fourth line while Blake Lizotte remains out with a lower body injury. More on that following today’s afternoon practice at Toyota Sports Performance Center.
Sammy Fagemo, who had been up with the Kings since mid-January and played four games for the club before being returned to AHL Ontario last week, is not expected to be recalled at this time.