For most hockey players, the games start after the national anthem is sung (or, hopefully for not much longer, God Bless America); usually around 7:35pm. For one player, the game starts much earlier than that.

Last night I finally managed to catch the warm-up drills before the game against Minnesota, something that is generally a languid experience, but can be interesting to watch. During the 15 minute pseudo-practice, you can, at best, get a taste of a vibe for which players have their legs going that night. Sometimes, one player will jump out at you, and as has become a pattern throughout training camp and the first three games of the season, that player was Ryan Smyth.

The first thing you will notice is that Smyth skates sans helmet. The second thing you notice is Smyth’s energy level, which is no less than it ever is during regulation play. Hair gloriously flowing, Smyth’s feet never stopped moving. While the rest of the team was idly awaiting their turns, Smyth was doing laps. He was the first one in on every drill, and the last one off the ice.

It’s one thing to show determination while going up against the opposition, but it truly says something special when that determination is ubiquitous to any and all situations on the ice. Smyth led the warm-up, organizing players and doling out pucks. This responsibility generally will fall on one player during pregame drills, but few have I seen take up these reins with as much authority and exhuberance as number 94.

Smyth is a great player in his own right, as we have seen with his early 6 point, goal per game performance thus far. His positive effect on Anze Kopitar has already been well documented. As the games go by, I learn more and more about Smyth, a player I long detested as one of the many infamous ‘King-killers.’ This new observation is further justification for this Kings’ fan that Smyth’s energy and dynamism truly are imbued vicariously to all those around him.

One has to marvel at, in pure fascination, just how deep Smyth’s well of fan seduction runs.

If Captain Canada keeps up this level of play and influence, he will soon need to start responding to the currently more appropriate moniker, Lord of L.A.

Categories: L.A. Kings News



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