Michael Cammalleri nodded in assurance when asked if returning to the LA Kings organization for this season was like "coming home" for him.
The 35-year-old Cammalleri was a second-round draft pick in 2001 and played parts of five seasons and 283 games with the team from 2002-03 through 2007-08. Before being traded in 2008, the forward was a component of Los Angeles' young core, which also featured Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar..
This offseason, Cammalleri signed a one-year contract and has found familiarity back where his career began. Cammalleri has played with the Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils since he was dealt away from Los Angeles.
"[Your first team] it's kind of your birthright into the league," Cammalleri said. "You came up here, you learn everything for the first time here. This was your impression of what the NHL was."
Many of his former teammates are still around the organization, which has certainly helped Cammalleri's personal transition.
Luc Robitaille is the Kings' President, Rob Blake is General Manager. Derek Armstrong works in hockey development and Jaroslav Modry works with the Ontario Reign. Nelson Emerson, an assistant coach during Cammalleri's first time with the Kings, is still with the organization as Director of Player Development.
Also, Brown and Kopitar are still big-time components with Los Angeles.
"I think our lives have changed, but coming in the room he's the same player, same interaction, same ribbing," Brown said. "All that stuff is the same."
"It's the relationships more than anything that I think are the coolest part about coming back," Cammalleri said.
"It has actually been really nice to reconnect with Anze and Dustin. I think there's an organic camaraderie there that we have. We're all grown up now with kids and families and you can feel kind of a genuine feel to reconnect and to know one another all over again and share those times together."
Video: TOR@LAK: Cammalleri taps home Brown's feed for PPG
When Cammalleri left, he was in his mid-20s and didn't have any children.
Now, he has three kids and his personal priorities had certainly changed in regards to how he approached settling into Los Angeles.
"To me, what's dramatically different is coming back with three kids and a wife," Cammalleri said. "My routines have changed, but [living in] the South Bay itself probably lends itself to the family life so well that it's a really nice place to be."
Fortunately, Cammalleri's old teammates were there to help him in regards to getting his family set up in their new area once he arrived back.
"He's got the lay of the land pretty well from his first stint here, but we're just trying to help him with schools because he has three kids," Brown said. "Coming here and not knowing that aspect of it was probably the only thing that I really helped him with, or my wife helped his wife really."
Though things are different for Cammalleri in some respects, a lot has stayed the same.
His two favorite restaurants, Capo and Hamasaku, are still around. He has also found himself on the team's top power play unit with Brown and Kopitar, and shown some chemistry with them again.
So far two of Cammalleri's three goals have come with the man-advantage.
Video: MTL@LAK: Cammalleri swats the puck past Montoya
He currently has seven points in 15 games.
"I think he's a good fit there," coach John Stevens said of Cammalleri's spot on the PP. "Then he's been actually moved around with some of our younger guys and what I'd call our real working skilled players. I think when you have a veteran guy in your lineup like that that's got a lot of experience in the league, I think it can only help the people he plays with."
Video: MTL@LAK: Cammalleri slips in rebound for second goal