Kevin Westgarth played nine games for the Kings in 2008-09, registering nine penalty minutes. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
This summer, I took some time to do a little traveling. I spent some time in New York with my girlfriend before heading north to visit the magical isle of Newfoundland, where Brad Richardson and I visited with Teddy Purcell. We had a great time there. Then it was off to Edmonton to start working out. I went to Los Angeles for 10 days and just got back to Edmonton. Spending time with friends and family has made for a really great summer, but I’ve still been working hard to prepare for the season.
I think most hockey players would agree that it’s nice to take some time away from the game. I really love everything about the game so I don’t like to be away from it for very long, but getting away for a little really just drives your hunger to get back at it and feel that passion again. That passion needs to be there for you to play your absolute best. I’ve never had a problem with a lack of passion and I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to work and back on the ice.
In fact, me and some of the other Kings players got together this summer in L.A. to work out with the Kings’ new strength coach, Tim Adams. He’s a guy who really knows what he’s doing and had us working really hard. Different guys were coming in at different times throughout, so it was nice to see all the people you haven’t seen for a little while. We all got to show each other how hard we’d been working all summer, which was great. Socially, it’s always nice to hang out with the boys and maybe have a few fun nights. I really think having everybody working hard together is a good bonding experience.
In July, the Kings had their annual development camp where I was on hand – along with some other guys - to work with the younger players and welcome them to the team and organization. I think it’s great for the young guys to have that experience and I know first hand that it can take a lot of the fear and unknown away. I remember, even as an older guy, coming out of college when it’s your first time being around the big leagues you don’t know what to expect and you’re like, “oh my god that’s one of the guys who plays for the Kings.” When the guys come up to you and offer a kind word, it goes a long way.
Now with summer winding down, anxious is the word I’d use to describe how I feel about training camp. There’s always a level of nervousness going in because it’s been a while since you’ve done some of the things, but I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for the team as a whole to really come out of the gates hard this year. There are some opportunities for a few guys, who may not have made it last year, to make the team this time. I’m definitely looking forward to making the most out of any opportunities that I get. You look forward to being with the Kings from the start of the season and I know I have been preparing and proving that I belong.
The team is excited, they’re going to be hosting a big Fan Fest across the street from Staples Center before the season and I know the players are excited to get things going as well.
To find out more about LA Kings Hockey Fest ’09 log onto www.lakings.com/hockeyfest
Signed as a free agent out of Princeton, Kevin Westgarth is a 6-foot-5, 247 pound right winger for the Los Angeles Kings. He played in his first nine NHL games during the 2008-09 season after spending parts of two seasons with Manchester of the American League. A native of Amherstburg, Ont., the 25-year-old Westgarth will blog throughout the season for THN.com.