Off-Ice Training Center another avenue to excel
Since 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 the El Segundo facility 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 six 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.”
“We’re proud to debut the Off-Ice Training Center alongside a world-renowned team like the Kings,” added HockeyShot president J-P Brun. “The training center is a true statement in the industry that on-ice skills can be honed off-ice. By extending our partnership with the Kings, we’re able to provide an environment for Southern California players that offers a more accessible way to practice.”
The creation of the Off-Ice Training Center is aimed to improve skill development and features 1,200 square-feet of HockeyShot’s Extreme Glide Synthetic Ice, which, thanks to its resilient technology, can withstand rain, snow and hot sun. It’s also suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
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 huge not only for our Jr. Kings and Lions players, but anyone who wants improve their skills with a purpose,” said Pitcher, whose support staff includes Jr. Kings coaches Stephane Desjardins, Erik Lektorp, Sam Graham and Ian Hoang. “It’s just another developmental option we can take advantage of when we’re not on the ice.”
Mike Donnelly agrees.
A member of the Kings’ player development department which will help oversee the venture, the former NHL forward who owns a similar facility back in his home state of Michigan says the training center will be a difference-maker as it relates to skill development at all levels.
“In my eyes, it’s like a fourth sheet of ice in El Segundo,” said Donnelly, referring to the three-sheet TSC. “It’s a place where we can work with kids and teach kids, but it’s also a place for them to work on their skills themselves.
“It’s a place where they’re going to be taught proper fundamentals on shooting and stickhandling and other basic fundamentals, and a place where they’re going to be taught the right way and be challenged to improve their skillset.”
Having world-class hockey players engaged validates the facility’s importance, says Donnelly.
“No question,” said Donnelly, who skated five seasons with the Kings from 1990-95. “For our NHL guys, it’s self-improvement and we want our players to keep getting better. And for the Reign guys, they’re trying to make the NHL so we’re trying to make every possible improvement we can with them.
“We’re a big believer in this and it’s an important part of our development model for both the Kings and Reign, as well as our draft picks, and it’s great the public is able to use the same facility our players use; it’s a huge benefit for everyone.”
And Donnelly is very much looking forward to working alongside Pitcher and the Kings’ hockey development team as they collectively continue to map out a healthy and productive curriculum for the youth segment.
“He’s a big part of this and we’re excited to have him,” Donnelly said of Pitcher. “I know he’s got a strong hockey background and he’s really eager to teach.”
“To have this setup in our own backyard is exciting to say the least,” Pitcher added. “It’s no doubt going to have a positive impact on the growth and development of our game, locally.”
As the presenting sponsor of the facility, HockeyShot also has a designated retail space where visitors have the opportunity to sample and purchase equipment designed to help players with their technique-focused, off-ice training progress.
In addition, HockeyShot has provided a variety of its best-selling products to be used daily in the Off-Ice Training Center for players of all ages and skill levels.
The Off-Ice Training Center is open seven days a week from 2-9 p.m.
For more information and pricing, contact Pitcher at email@example.com or (424) 251-5995.
— Brian McDonough
(March 12, 2019)