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Kings begin quest of third Cup in four seasons

by Dan Rosen

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Kings have what the other 29 teams in the NHL want, but they'll be motivated and driven this season by the same emotion that everyone else in the NHL feels toward them.

"Jealousy," Kings forward Justin Williams said Tuesday.

Come again? Jealousy?

It's definitely fair to wonder how it is that the Kings, the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the team that will raise its second championship banner in three seasons Wednesday before their season-opener against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN1), can be jealous of anything or anybody?

Easy, Williams said. All they have to do is think about what it felt like to lose to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final two seasons ago. That memory, those feelings, they're still fresh, still usable for motivation.

"If I see someone else holding the Stanley Cup I get jealous and upset and I want it back," Williams said. "That was the feeling we had after we lost to Chicago a couple years ago. We want to keep it. We want to hold it. We know what it's like to lose it now too."

The Kings also know they're built to win the Stanley Cup again. They're not hiding from the expectation. No team has won the Stanley Cup twice in a row since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. They know that too.

"It's up for grabs and now this year we have to worry about keeping a hold onto it," defenseman Drew Doughty said. "It's tough to do. A team hasn't done it in a long time. We're hoping to be the first in a while. We're satisfied, but we want more. The guys in here, we just want to win. We want to be a championship team."

All signs point to them being on the right track to being one again.

The Kings came into training camp in shape and healthy. They stayed that way and will begin the season with their full roster, featuring 19 of the 20 players coach Darryl Sutter used in the Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers.

The lone change is Robyn Regehr will go in for Willie Mitchell, who was named captain of the Florida Panthers on Monday. Regehr didn't play in the Cup Final last season because he was hurt, and because the Kings were winning.

Defenseman Brayden McNabb and center Andy Andreoff made the team out of training camp, but neither is expected to be in the lineup against San Jose.

"We've been through this together as a group," captain Dustin Brown said. "It's game time now. We know what that means. We know what we need to do to be ready to go."

The first thing they needed to do was come back to camp focused on this season, not still celebrating last season. That's not easy to do, coach Darryl Sutter said, because the Stanley Cup isn't easily avoidable, even during training camp.

Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik left the team in Las Vegas last weekend to accompany the Stanley Cup to a USC football game and a Los Angeles Galaxy game. The Kings received their Stanley Cup championship rings at a team dinner Monday that was accompanied by the trophy. They will raise the banner in a pregame ceremony before the game Wednesday. The Stanley Cup will be there too.

The Kings aren't complaining about any of it. They welcome all of it. Who wouldn't? But staying focused was a challenge they had to deal with in training camp.

"We stayed true to the cause," Sutter said.

They did, Brown said, because they came back to work with a business-like approach toward training camp. He said the Kings' attitude heading into this season is much different from what it was when they came back to start the 2012-13 season. Granted, a lot of that had to do with the longer offseason because of the work stoppage, but regardless, Brown said, they are more focused.

"I don't want to use the word business, but I will," Williams said. "We're very focused and driven. We're not sure how good we can be and how far we can take this, but we'll do our best to find out."

There is one unknown for the Kings. They don't know how the short summer will play into their plans for this season. Remember, the last time the Kings won they didn't get going again until Jan. 8 because of the lockout.

"It's good considering you don't have time to get out of shape," Williams said of the short summer. "You kind of gotta get right back at it. It's always easier to stay in shape than get out of shape and try to get back into shape. It's kind of an advantage in that way."

Said defenseman Jake Muzzin of the short summer: "You maybe don't get as much work in as other teams have gotten in, but I don't think that's an excuse. When they were working out [in June] we were still playing. It's the game of hockey, it isn't about who is the best in the gym. It's a short break and you're back into it again, but you move on. Last year is done and you get refocused for this year."

Sutter said the short summer should not even be a topic of discussion for the Kings because they've played into June for three straight seasons.

The Kings, in fact, had the same number of days (116) in between the end of their playoff run in 2013 (June 8) and their first game of the 2013-14 season (Oct. 3) as they had from the end of their playoff run this year (June 13) to Wednesday.

"We set our summer up two days after the season, we had a schedule," Sutter said. "We had two weeks of nothing and then we had 70 days of training [before training camp]. Our guys have shown that. They did an awesome job."


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