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NHL Stadium Series

Kings soak in Stadium Series atmosphere, try to tune out trade talk

Focus on facing Avalanche in outdoor game at Air Force with deadline looming

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Tyler Toffoli and Alec Martinez of the Los Angeles Kings were able to step outside and block out the noise leading up to the 2020 NHL Trade Deadline -- for at least one day.

The Kings had an outdoor practice Friday at Falcon Stadium, the site of the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN360, TVAS2, AFN/sports2).

With the uncertainty surrounding the Kings, Toffoli, a forward who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, and Martinez, a defenseman and potential 2021 unrestricted free agent, could be moved before the trade deadline on Feb. 24.

"Obviously I'm still here, so I'm here just trying to enjoy the moment." Toffoli said. "If something happens, then that's what it is. I'm here to have some fun and be with the guys and just enjoy it and get a win [Saturday]."

 

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The Kings (20-33-5), who are last in the Western Conference with 45 points, the second-fewest in the NHL ahead of the Detroit Red Wings (32), know moves will happen around the League in the coming days and that they will likely be involved. The Kings have already made one trade, sending goalie Jack Campbell and forward Kyle Clifford to the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Trevor Moore, a third-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft on Feb. 6.

"Obviously the guys that think they're getting traded, it's on their mind a lot," said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who is under contract until 2026-27 and has a no-movement clause. "We're aware that [trades] can happen at any point in time. We're ready for it. We put ourselves in this position that isn't very good, so this is why it's gotta happen."

Coach Todd McLellan, who is in his first season with the Kings, said he hopes the cloud is lifted for his team and the Avalanche during these outdoor festivities, with mid-February being an otherwise difficult time, especially during a rebuild.

"The whole League is a little bit on edge, but, in our case, it's clear what we're trying to do as an organization," McLellan said. "There are some individuals that are truly affected by it. Their names have been on lists and talked about for months now. It gets a little tiring and becomes more stressful for a lot of people. But this event is a real good thing for us right now at this time of year. It's a little bit of a distraction; there's an energy around the team and around the building. We had a little pop in our practice I thought."

Toffoli and Martinez each won the Stanley Cup and played his entire NHL career with the Kings; Martinez was on the championship teams in 2012 and 2014; Toffoli won as a rookie in 2014. Each has played in an NHL Stadium Series game; Martinez in the Kings' first regular-season outdoor game, a 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium in 2014, Toffoli against the San Jose Sharks at Levi's Stadium in 2015, a 2-1 win.

The outdoor practice was a chance for Martinez to tune out the rumors and soak in a unique hockey experience with friends, family and teammates.

"Obviously come tomorrow, it's business time," Martinez said. "Another two points, just like any other game. Obviously gotta take it seriously. But, at the end of the day, with all this stuff, the best part is sharing [these moments] with people you care about. Having family in town and being able to have them go out on the ice and share the experience with you, it's a pretty cool opportunity."

Kings forward Alex Iafallo, a frequent linemate of Toffoli this season and potential 2021 unrestricted free agent, didn't take anything for granted while his team had fun at the outdoor rink.

"This definitely brings the team together for sure," Iafallo said. "We're excited for this game and looking forward to it for a couple of weeks now. It's an awesome setup, and we got out there flying around the ice and it felt good to be out there with everyone."

[Toffoli] is a [heck] of a guy, on and off the ice. It's really fun playing [on a line] with him. He's always getting the puck to the net and making great plays. He has a really good hockey sense. Hopefully we get some good goals [on Saturday]."

Jonathan Quick, who has been with the Kings for his entire career and was the goalie for their two championships, said he has enjoyed seeing Toffoli and Martinez grow over the years. But he said everyone is just looking forward to making more memories Saturday.

"Can't say enough about either one of those guys," said Quick, who is under contract until 2022-23 but does not have a no-trade or no-movement clause. "But right now we're just focused on playing a game tomorrow. It's gonna be a fun experience."

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