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50 Kings - Jarret Stoll

Former LA Kings center looks back on his time with the club, and what life has in store for him

by Deborah Lew @by_DeborahLew / LAKings.com

Perhaps in another 50 years he will, but at this point in time Jarret Stoll needs no introduction to the Los Angeles Kings community. Being only a year and a half removed from his days in an LA Kings uniform, Stoll maintains strong ties to the organization via former teammates, staff and community members, who, over the years, have become great friends.

Although Stoll's departure from the Kings during the summer of 2015 was met with controversy, it's something that the 34-year-old Saskatchewan native has confidently put behind him.

"People make mistakes. I made a mistake and I don't think that should portray who I am as a person, as a player, as a teammate, as a friend," shares Stoll. "I know what kind of person I am, and everybody around me knows what kind of person I am. I showed for years what kind of person I am on the ice, off the ice, as part of this community and this organization, with everybody around me, and all my friends that know me. It was a sad way to leave the organization, but you learn from mistakes and adversity and you get better as a person."

Stoll was acquired by the Kings during the 2008 offseason, along with Matt Greene, in a trade that sent Lubomir Visnovsky to the Edmonton Oilers, where Stoll and Greene had made it all the way the Stanley Cup Final just two years prior. At the time, the two were both familiar with Los Angeles, as they spent their summers working out with a trainer in the area.

In seven seasons with the Kings, Stoll has much to look back on - which he does often - digging out old photos and videos of memorable moments in his career. Fans will remember the dramatic overtime goal Stoll scored in Game 5 of the Kings' quarterfinal matchup with the Vancouver Canucks during the 2012 postseason, which propelled the Kings into the next round, en route to their first Stanley Cup.

For Stoll, like many other players, the most prominent memories are not on any highlight reels. He vividly remembers a moment he shared with Greene in the locker room immediately after the 2012 Stanley Cup win. The two sat side by side, exhausted, with the Cup at their skates, and in that instant, time stood still.

"It's kind of cool because we came from Edmonton in the same trade, been through six or seven years here," reminisces Stoll, who has the photo hanging in his Hermosa Beach home. "So that was a cool moment, just sitting there. There was mayhem all around us, but it almost seemed like it was just silence and you didn't hear anything and you didn't see anything but us and the Cup."

The day after the 2012 Stanley Cup victory, Stoll had his teammates and the Cup at his home. The Cup was sitting on a table next to the pool and people were milling about, eating, socializing and admiring their trophy. Head coach Darryl Sutter also made an appearance.

"Darryl came over and we just sat there and I remember Darryl saying 'This is pretty cool, eh boys?' or something like that," Stoll recalls. "We were all just sitting there staring at it, and all the neighbors were coming over because they heard it was there."

One of Stoll's favorite events surrounding the 2014 Championship was the South Bay Parade, being that he and all his teammates reside in the South Bay. Very rarely, if ever, does an NHL team have all its players living within 15 minutes of each other, and it's an aspect that some, Stoll included, have attributed to the team's success.

"It was all very personal and intimate and seeing so many people in the crowd that we knew and supported us, that was cool, just to be in our own backyard," Stoll says about the South Bay Parade.

Following the conclusion of the 2014-15 season, when Stoll's contract had expired, he was vocal about wanting to remain with the Kings, but circumstances at the time didn't allow it. Later that summer, he signed with the New York Rangers.

"Whenever you love an organization, love the guys, love the trainers, love the coaches, were successful as part of that organization, you want to stay - forever," Stoll admits. "But that's not sports, that's the way it goes, so it was a little bittersweet in that sense."

"When you're in the same place for a long period of time it's weird going anywhere," Stoll continues. "I think if I were here for a year or two it wouldn't be so strange. Eight years with everybody in the organization, not only players, but everybody surrounding it, it's a change. Going from Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, to Manhattan in New York, to be honest it's the complete opposite in a lot of ways. It's quiet, it's chill here people support us so well, they're respectful. The Rangers in New York, it's amazing the support they get in the city, but it's 24 hours a day, hustle and bustle, but it was great. It's an unbelievable organization to be a part of, they treated the players really well, we did a lot of things in the community, but it was different in a lot of ways."

New York was only home for Stoll for a few months before he was picked up on waivers by the Minnesota Wild. The move was a little ill-timed only because it happened just before Christmas, and Stoll is widely known by teammates and friends as a big fan of the December holiday. He and girlfriend Erin Andrews ended up celebrating last Christmas in a Minnesota hotel room with a small light-up tree that he purchased from Target.

"It was a great team to be a part of, we had a lot of fun," Stoll insists of the Wild.

Being from the Yorkton area of Saskatchewan, travel to Minnesota was fairly easy for friends and family, so visitors were regular.

"It kind of came full circle, going from LA to New York back to Minnesota," proclaims Stoll.

In January, Stoll made his first return trip to STAPLES Center while playing for the Wild. It was an experience both touching and strange, but no doubt, another one for the memory bank.

"That was special - special and weird in some ways. Having to sit in the visiting locker room, and then you think back to nine years ago when I was with Edmonton sitting in that locker room, and honestly not even stepping foot in that locker room in nine years. You have a lot of those good memories from 30 yards down the hallway, celebrating the Stanley Cup," Stoll describes. "Skating out for warmups, everybody's laughing at you. We're so close that we're laughing at each other during the game. It's different battling against your good friends, but that little moment during the video was cool too, just to see the highlights and see the crowd, what they did and how they supported me. It was awesome, it was something I'll never forget. I still have the video, everybody was sending me the video, so I'll definitely keep that and look back on that as a great moment in my career."

On a Wednesday afternoon in a little Hermosa Beach café where he is known on a first-name basis, Stoll sips on his coffee and ponders the poignant occasions from a career that he hopes isn't quite through just yet. Although he isn't under contract with a team, Stoll still believes he can play and is staying in shape by skating and working out at Toyota Sports Center, the Kings' practice facility. Should an NHL offer come along, he would gladly take it.

For now, he is familiarizing himself with other parts of the Kings' organization, dabbling in Player Development with Nelson Emerson, Sean O'Donnell, and assistant general manager Rob Blake. He's made a couple of trips to the Ontario Reign to work with the Kings' minor league affiliate, and he's learning how players are rated and how to tell who needs what to make it to the next level.

"They're young kids trying to make it and they work so hard and you can tell they want to learn, they listen, they're respectful, and they just want to take everything in, they're little sponges," observes Stoll about the prospects. "It's good being on the ice with them, it makes you want to teach them and pull them in and make them feel comfortable. I just want to get my foot in the door and Dean [Lombardi, the Kings' general manager] is giving me the opportunity, so I'm very grateful."

Stoll concedes that it is a little odd, and sometimes saddening, to see his ex-teammates around the rink and at games and not be playing with them. He still considers guys like Greene, Alec Martinez, Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, Jeff Carter Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick, among other current Kings, his best friends - they all live within close proximity of one another, and spend a lot of time together, especially during the summer.

"None of that has changed, which is good," recognizes Stoll. "I don't think they'd want to change it for anything, I wouldn't want to change it for anything, and if I do get a chance to play again it would be great to play against them, but if not, we're still best friends."

Stoll's immediate professional future may be a little unclear at the moment, but he is optimistic, open-minded, and ready for the next chapter in his story.

"If it is over, it was a great ride, a lot of good memories, teammates, coaches, trainers, everything," Stoll boasts. "You want good memories, you want to win and that's why we all play sports. We're all competitive, we want to win, and we did that. It's very, very hard to do, everybody knows that, everybody says that, and I'm very fortunate that we were able to do it once and twice."

What isn't so unclear for Stoll is his future with Andrews. The sportscaster and Dancing with the Stars host accepted a marriage proposal from Stoll last week at Disneyland. The proposal happened at the exclusive Club 33, just before the couple was whisked off to a front row seat for the fireworks spectacular.

All things considered, Stoll is continuing to prove that when one door closes, another one opens - and, if the skates fit, sometimes more than one.

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