From top contributors on the Manchester Monarchs to valuable contributors on the Stanley Cup contending Los Angeles Kings, left wing Dwight King and right wing Jordan Nolan have transitioned well to life in the National Hockey League. King and Nolan are two of 14 players currently on the Kings roster who have suited up for the Monarchs over the years.
King and Nolan were recalled to Los Angeles from Manchester on February 10. The moves have helped create better balance on the club’s forward lines and they have given the Kings a little more size up front. As a result, the two wingers helped with the Kings’ offensive struggles and have been integral in the team’s current on-ice chemistry and success. They were inserted into the line-up immediately and in their second game, they both scored their first National Hockey League goals in a 4-2 victory against the Dallas Stars. Nolan’s tally was the game-winner.
Since King and Nolan joined the line-up along with winger Jeff Carter, who was traded to Los Angeles in the end of February, the Kings finished the final 27 games of the regular season by averaging 2.77 goals per game which was a drastic improvement from their scoring average in the first half of the regular season.
King and Nolan have also carried their strong regular seasons into the Stanley Cup Playoffs as both have had big second round goals against the Blues in Game 3 and Game 4, respectively.
“I played two plus years in Manchester which helped me develop as a hockey player,” reflected King. “All the opportunities I have had in Manchester, on the power play, penalty kill and all other situations, have helped me a lot in transitioning to the NHL. Obviously, being up here in Los Angeles and getting a chance to play often has helped my transition as well.”
Make no mistake about it, the transition from the American Hockey League to the NHL is not easy. The Kings organization has a proven track record of aiding the “jump to the big leagues” but there are some things even the Kings cannot control.
“At first, it took some getting used to the scheduling up here,” explained King. “In Manchester, you play a lot of weekend games and in L.A. you play almost every second day. It was a little bit of an adjustment but it has been a good experience.”
While King and Nolan have settled in on the ice, they are still new to the city of Los Angeles. Manchester recently had 10 Monarchs players called up to Los Angeles as their “Black Aces” helping Nolan and King to feel more at home as they did in Manchester.
"It's definitely nice to have them around,” said Nolan. “Unfortunately, the Monarchs went out in the first round (to the Norfolk Admirals) but it is also nice for me to see some familiar faces here. It is nice to have some friends and teammates around from the last couple years (in Manchester) at the hotel here and to be able to hang with them during the day after practice.”
Practicing and maintaining focus is exactly what King, Nolan and the rest of the Kings are doing this week as they prepare for the Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Final. The winner of that series, of course, determines who represents the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals.
“We have done well so far knocking off the No. 1 and 2 teams (in the West),” stated King. “Now we are going up against a No. 3 seed (Phoenix), so it doesn’t get any easier that is for sure. It is an exciting time to play.”
An exciting, if not an exhilarating time for Kings fans as they have witnessed Los Angeles skate to an 8-1 record in the playoffs. Their bouncing of the top two seeds in the Western Conference makes them the first eighth seed to defeat the top two seeded teams in the conference since the format was changed in 1994.
Monarchs Country can watch the Kings playoff run with pride knowing that Monarchs players are making a large impact in the make-up of this Kings team and most recently with the seamless transitions of King, Nolan and defenseman Slava Voynov into the line-up as they play large and meaningful minutes down the stretch.
By Gregory Rosa