EL SEGUNDO — Willie Desjardins has been interim head coach of the Kings for less than a week, having been hired Sunday after John Stevens was fired. He already finds himself talking about a local tragedy that has broken the hearts of so many Southern Californians, and devastated the lives of so many.
On Wednesday night, just three days after Desjardins took the job, 12 people were gunned down inside the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks. The alleged gunman, Ian David Long, took his own life after taking those of innocents just looking to enjoy a night of country line-dancing.
The Kings on Thursday night honored the victims and their families prior to their game against Minnesota, which defeated the Kings 3-1.
Players from both teams wore a special sticker with the word “Enough” on their helmets and held up signs that said the same during a moment of silence before the game.
Desjardins spoke in somber tones about the most recent senseless massacre in this country, following practice Friday.
“When you just look at everything, it’s so sad when you see those things happen,” Desjardins said. “It puts hockey kind of in perspective. There are so many things that are more important. When you think about those families and how they just went in and all of a sudden, everything changes, it makes you really think, you know, what’s really safe?”
He appreciated what the Kings did in their tribute.
“And I thought the message they’re saying about ‘Enough,’ it’s important,” Desjardins said. “It’s important for everybody to try and figure out how can we change that. How can we find a way to make it so it’s safe?
“It’s a big message, but I guess it starts from everybody individually to make their voices heard. I thought it was great by the Kings and I certainly feel for those people.”
AMADIO LOOKING TO PLAY
Second-year forward Michael Amadio made the Kings’ roster out of training camp, but he was sent down to the Ontario Reign of the AHL briefly before being recalled Nov. 3. He’s been a healthy scratch in the three games since.
He was asked what it’s going to take for him to get back in a game. He’s played in nine, but one since Oct. 25.
“Just prove that I’m working hard in practice, bringing my work ethic every day and bringing the right attitude to the rink and, hopefully, I get the opportunity soon,” he said.
Amadio said he has talked with Desjardins about what he wants from a player.
“He’s obviously just looking for guys who are going to compete every night, give the team the best chance to win,” he said. “So I’ve gotta be able to do that and, hopefully, that’ll get me in the lineup.”
Desjardins said that, like the rest of the so-called second group, Amadio has to step up and be counted. Desjardins said that can only happen by Amadio playing, and he hinted that might be Saturday when the Kings host Calgary at 7 p.m.
“The group needs the second wave of guys to start coming and be heavy, hard players,” Desjardins said. “The older group, they’ve won and they’re just warriors. They come in and they play so hard and … the second group hasn’t gotten that yet. Those guys didn’t have it, either, when they were young.”
The core veterans consisting of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Alec Martinez and Drew Doughty – to name just a few – won Stanley Cup titles in 2012 and 2014.
Amadio has one goal and no assists in nine games.
STATEMENT FROM STEVENS
Former coach Stevens released a statement through the Kings on Friday.
“I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Anschutz, Dan Beckerman and the entire Kings organization for the opportunity to be a part of the Kings family for the past nine years,” it began. “It was an honor and a privilege to work with the players, coaches and support staff who were so dedicated and committed to the process of winning.
“My family and I will leave here with nothing but gratitude and respect for this first-class organization. All the best to the Kings and a sincere ‘Thank You.’ ”
Stevens was an assistant before being promoted to head coach ahead of the 2017-18 season.
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