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Toffoli says Kings are motivated to bounce back after last-place finish

Forward expects boost from young players, new coach McLellan

by Dan Greenspan / Independent Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Tyler Toffoli said he has something to prove this season, and he believes the rest of the Los Angeles Kings will carry the same attitude into their first training camp under new coach Todd McLellan.

"There's a lot of people doubting me and doubting us as a team, so I think everybody should be excited to prove a point here," he said Wednesday.

Toffoli had 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) last season and was minus-16, the first time in his seven-season NHL career he had a negative rating. He said he feels no additional pressure to improve his production going into the final season of a three-year contract. Instead, Toffoli said his focus when the Kings open training camp Sept. 12 will be restoring the competitive spirit and quality practice habits that they lacked last season, when they went 31-42-9, last in the Western Conference, and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

Video: 31 in 31: Los Angeles Kings 2019-20 season preview

McLellan was hired April 16. He is the Kings' fourth coach in four seasons.

"I feel like everybody is going to come in and just earn their spot," Toffoli said. "I feel like it's one of those things where it was definitely a disappointing season last year, so we all have something to prove. And I think Todd has a plan of what he wants to do and what he wants to see, so I think we're all just kind of excited to get back and get started."

The Kings will open training camp with several promising young players competing to make the opening night roster, including forwards Jaret Anderson-Dolan, selected in the second round (No. 41) of the 2017 NHL Draft, and Rasmus Kupari, selected in the first round (No. 20) of the 2018 NHL Draft. Toffoli said he expects their presence, along with McLellan's style of coaching, will help the Kings avoid the lackadaisical preparations that resulted in a 4-8-1 start last season and coach John Stevens being fired and replaced by Willie Desjardins on Nov. 4.

Toffoli has spoken to McLellan a few times this offseason, but his main focus has been working out with teammates. Toffoli said the earliest of those sessions were fueled by watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs as spectators, reminding the Kings of what they were missing.

"As you can imagine, the mood wasn't incredible, but it's one of those things where you just put it behind you and you just work hard," Toffoli said. "You watch teams go in the playoffs and you're sitting here and you're working out while teams are still having fun playing, so we got to use that as motivation to get in the gym and make yourself better."

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