TOYOTA SPORTS CENTER
Off-ice training center another avenue to excel By Brian McDonough
ince the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers left Toyota Sports Center (TSC) a couple of years ago for their new headquarters at UCLA Health Training Center, the Los Angeles Kings have wasted little time making good use of the extra square footage. During that stretch, the two-time Stanley Cup champions have relocated their entire front and administrative offices back inside TSC and brought the Ontario Reign - their American Hockey League affiliate - in as a full-time practice tenant. Most recently, by extending and expanding their partnership with HockeyShot, the Kings and the largest online specialty retailer of hockey training equipment worldwide architected and opened a state-of-the-art Off-Ice Training Center inside TSC. The space features a multisport training area and three hockey shooting lanes that’s not only being utilized by the Los Angeles Jr. Kings and LA Lions, but Kings and Reign players as well. It’s also available for private groups and open for public use. “With the training center, we have the ability to better hone our techniques in a cutting-edge facility,” said Kings president Luc Robitaille. “It’s also an opportunity for us to promote skill development for players at all levels across Southern California.” Shawn Pitcher, the facility’s director and a well-respected coach within the Jr. Kings program, believes the center can’t help but have a positive impact on the ever-growing local youth hockey segment.
“To have the Kings get behind this kind of initiative is with the Kings from 1990-95. “For our NHL guys, it’s huge not only for our Jr. Kings and Lions players, but any- self-improvement and we want our players to keep getting one who wants improve their skills with a purpose,” said better. And for the Reign guys, they’re trying to make the Pitcher, whose support staff includes Jr. Kings coaches NHL so we’re trying to make every possible improvement Stephane Desjardins, Erik Lektorp, Sam Graham we can with them. “We’re a big believer in this and it’s an important part and Ian Hoang. “It’s just another developmental option of our development blueprint with both the Kings and we can take advantage of when we’re not on the ice.” Mike Donnelly agrees. A member of the Kings’ play- Reign, as well as our draft picks, and it’s great the public is able to use the same facility our er development department which players use; it’s a huge benefit for will help oversee the venture, the everyone.” former NHL forward who owns And Donnelly is very much a similar facility back in his home state of Michigan says the training looking forward to working alongcenter will be a difference-maker side Pitcher and the Kings’ hockey development team as they as it relates to skill development at continue to map out a healthy all levels. and productive curriculum for the “In my eyes, it’s like a fourth youth segment. sheet of ice in El Segundo,” said “He’s a big part of this and Donnelly, referring to the three- Mike Donnelly (center), a member of the Los sheet TSC. “It’s a place where Angeles Kings’ player development staff, is a firm we’re excited to have him,” Donnelly said of Pitcher. “I know he’s we can work with kids and teach believer that the brand-new Off-Ice Training Cenkids, but it’s also a place for them ter inside Toyota Sports Center will have a positive got a strong hockey background and lasting impact on players at all levels. and he’s really eager to teach.” to work on their skills themselves. “To have this setup in our own backyard is exciting to “It’s a place where they’re going to be taught proper fundamentals on shooting and stickhandling and other say the least,” Pitcher added. “It’s no doubt going to have basic fundamentals, and a place where they’re going to a positive impact on the growth and development of our be taught the right way to do things and be challenged to game, locally.” improve their skillset.” The Off-Ice Training Center is open seven days a week Having the professional players engaged adds more from 2-5 p.m. For more information and pricing, contact credence to the facility’s importance, too, says Donnelly. Pitcher at email@example.com or “No question,” said Donnelly, who skated five seasons (424) 251-5995.
California Rubber Hockey Magazine
The February issue, featuring the One Step Sharks on the cover, has hit the streets!