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by Jeremy Zager / Los Angeles Kings
The Kings prospects invited to camp were broken into three groups - defensemen, forwards and goaltenders.

The Kings annual development camp is underway here at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. Some 39 players (split into two groups) are expected to participate in the camp, which runs through July 18.

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The Purple Group (here through July 14) started their session today. The forwards hit the ice first, followed the by the defenseman and then goaltenders. (For the list of players in each group and the corresponding schedules click here. The rink was filled with Kings scouts (I’m talking wall-to-wall here). GM Dean Lombardi was spotted standing by the benches, watching intently. And there was even a Bob Miller sighting, much to delight of Kings fans roaming around the TSC.

One notable player missing on the ice was defenseman Thomas Hickey, the Kings first-round pick (4th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Hickey is recovering from ankle surgery after tearing a ligament late last season. Hickey is still a part of the camp however, as he was seen training with Director of Pro Development Mike O’Connell on the TSC’s roller hockey rink (wearing street shoes). Good news for Kings fans is that Hickey said he should be 100 percent come training camp in September.

The morning drills were pretty basic for the most part. A lot of puck control and skating for the forwards and defensemen. Goaltenders worked on positioning and controlling rebounds. It pretty much looked like the first day of school – hockey style of course.

Defensive prospect Drew Doughty: "It was awesome to put on that Kings jersey and get on the ice here. Especially since I grew up a big Kings fan."

There was one drill, however, that you won’t see everyday. In fact a lot of the players were even commenting on it. The forwards and defensemen both had to skate around the end zone circles controlling the puck with one hand on their stick. That sounds hard in itself but here’s the kicker: the puck had to stay INSIDE the circles at all times. Kings assistant coach Nelson Emerson said its good practice for getting the puck into a player’s “wheelhouse.” In other words, getting the player to feel comfortable moving and playing the puck. I guess if you can do it with one hand, two hands should be easy right? Definitely not your novice hockey drill.

The afternoon practice was a bit more intense: harder skating and more end-to-end action. There was even a little hitting involved. Nothing dirty, just guys trying to impress and showcase their ability. The goaltenders, who mostly worked on technical drills and positioning in the morning session, saw some quality game-type shots fly their way.

All and all a busy day. But also a very productive day.

As part of the daily notebook from Development Camp, will be getting exclusive interviews from the coaching staff, scouts and players.

Here were the comments from Day 1:

Kings Assistant Coach Nelson Emerson:
(On Day 1 of the camp)
“We [the coaching staff and scouts] aren’t really looking too much into skill the first day. The basic thing we’re trying to do is break down each aspect of the position. You look across the NHL and goaltenders have their own specific coaches. Well, that’s what we’re trying to do here with the forwards and defensemen, as well as the goaltenders. We’re trying to breakdown each skill, get to the beginning and start from scratch.”

(On of the off-the-ice training)
“A lot of what we’re teaching is new for some of the guys who haven’t been to this camp before. The videos we show help them when they get onto the ice and perform the tasks we’re asking. We show a lot of clips of [Anze] Kopitar and [Dustin] Brown and some of the great things they do on the ice. These young prospects and draft picks can watch these players and then try to emulate the same thing on the ice.”

(On camp expectations)
“Well, attitude is a big one. This is July and the last thing you want to do is start getting this camp into a competitive nature. Although hockey brings that anyway, we’re tying to go away from that and make sure this is a development camp where the kids learn and enhance their skill set.”

(On the success of the first day)

“It’s been successful. We’ve thrown a lot of new stuff to these guys. Their body language and attitude has been terrific. They’re here to learn and their eyes are wide open. And that’s great. They’re learning, but at the same time we’re [coaching staff] learning too. We’re trying to get to know these kids too. So it’s good for us as well.”

Drew Doughty – Second overall pick in 2008 NHL Entry Draft:
(On his first day at camp)
“We’re working on a lot of things we’ve done in the past and a lot of new things as well. It was awesome to put on that Kings jersey and get on the ice here. Especially since I grew up a big Kings fan.” To watch Doughty’s interview in its entirety click here.

Colten Teubert – 13th overall pick in 2008 NHL Entry Draft:

(On his first day at camp)
“I’ve never been to LA before so I was a little nervous. But I’m just trying to make a good impression, get comfortable and learn the systems.” To watch Tuebert’s interview in its entirety click here.

Thomas Hickey – Fourth overall pick in 2007 NHL Entry Draft:
(On recovering from ankle surgery in late April)
“I’m not going to be able to take the ice during camp, but I’ve been working [on the roller rink here] on simulations: passing and shooting. I’m ahead of schedule though and should be back full board by training camp…Even though I’m not on the ice I’m still learning a lot. It’s my second year here, so I kind of feel like a veteran.” To watch more of Hickey’s interview click here.

(On knowing some of the other players and passing advice to the first-timers)
“It’s nice. I’m rooming with Drew Doughty, who’s one of my good friends. Some of the new guys have asked me what to expect and I just tell them to focus on getting better rather than worrying too much about evaluation.”

Make sure to log onto throughout the Development Camp to check out the daily notebook.

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