“Whether they need a big goal, the kid’s on the ice, or when they need to keep a goal out of the net, the kid’s on the ice. And that’s the ultimate sign of respect.”
Those words, from the Kings’ vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Futa, are in regards to Jake Muzzin, who is in his fifth season in Los Angeles.
Initially drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the fifth round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Muzzin overcame a devastating back injury while playing with the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL. A successful operation got the 6’3” defenseman back on the ice, but the Penguins chose to part ways with their draft pick.
Muzzin was again eligible to be selected in the 2009 draft following his final OHL season, but didn’t catch the eye of any NHL teams.
The Kings reached out to Muzzin following the draft.
“When I first started talking to them, they seemed like they wanted me the most,” Muzzin said. “I kind of knew that I wasn’t going to jump right into the NHL, so we wanted to have a good base where I could develop as a pro and learn pro hockey.”
But the Kings had company.
“Our number one rival, the Anaheim Ducks, were right in there,” Futa said. “At the time, they needed defensemen on paper a lot more than we needed defensemen, so we knew there was going to be a problem.”
Fortunately for the Kings, they landed Muzzin, and he began his tenure in the franchise with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs.
“It’s like you won the lottery,” Futa said.
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