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For Kings' Jack Campbell, getting shot in goal is just the start

For Kings' Jack Campbell, getting shot in goal is just the start
Kings goalie Jack Campbell deflects a shot from the Detroit Red Wings' Andreas Athanasiou during the first period Sunday. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Ten years ago, Jack Campbell shared the net with Adam Murray for the U.S. national development team that was getting ready to play in the under-18 World Junior Championships.

Murray is a year older than Campbell and got priority to wear jersey No. 30, so Campbell took No. 1. Winning that tournament prompted Campbell to keep wearing No. 1, until recently when he changed to No. 36.

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“I was kind of like, now that I’m going to be with the Kings, I kind of want a fresh start,” Campbell said.

Ready or not, it doesn’t get any fresher than now. Campbell is the priority goalie after Jonathan Quick got hurt two days into the season. Campbell resumes the starting role as the Kings begin an eastern Canada swing Tuesday.

He stepped in with 36 saves Sunday for his third NHL win, in what the Kings want to be another building block.

“This is what we’ve been grooming him for, and we don’t expect anything different than what he gave us last year,” goalie coach Bill Ranford said.

The Kings signed Campbell to a two-year contract extension last November and tabbed him as Quick’s backup in February. It stamped the organization’s confidence in Campbell after he resurrected his career with some standout one-off performances last season. He beat Vegas and helped the Kings get a point out of a tough game at Winnipeg.

This, for a former first-round draft pick who went more than three years between NHL appearances.

“Sometimes change is good and he’s one of the success stories,” Ranford said. “He chose to do the work. It’s kudos to him that he went out there and realized he had to make a few changes to his game and he’s done that.”

Campbell stayed locally in the summer to improve his lower-body strength and get more flexible. Ranford said Campbell changed the medication for his asthma and “he’s got a little bit more juice in the tank.”

But beyond physical conditioning, Campbell has patterned himself after Quick in trying to be a great teammate. Campbell tends to frame his outlook within the team perspective, and he’s humbled by his up-and-down path.

“He’s one of the nicest guys, so it’s nice to see him get rewarded,” teammate and roommate Michael Amadio said.

Quick brought Campbell to the NHL Awards in June even though Campbell didn’t qualify to get his name on the Jennings Trophy. Campbell might reach that 25-game criteria this season.

“This is what I expect,” Campbell said. “To be here, with this great group, is great but just getting here is the first thing. We’ve got to win some games and keep getting better.”

Budaj backs up

Peter Budaj was brought back to the Kings for depth, but he made it clear in training camp he intends to get back to an NHL rink. If he’s a mentor along the way, he’ll do it his own way.

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“I want to show with my actions and preparations and work ethic and the way I carry myself around the dressing room,” Budaj said. “I still battle and still compete. That’s the No. 1 thing for an athlete, to be hungry for competition and try to compete. I know my role and I’m going to have to [work hard] every day. It’s going to talk for itself. You don’t have to say words. You work hard.”

Budaj, 36, was projected as the No. 4 goalie behind Cal Petersen, but his experience makes him a logical choice to get the call.

“He won [27] games for us two years ago,” Ranford said. “Can’t forget that.”

KINGS AT WINNIPEG

When: Tuesday, 5 p.m. PDT.

On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: iHeartRadio (LA Kings Audio Network).

Update: Winnipeg plays its home opener and will try to extend a franchise-record nine-game home winning streak from last season. Adam Lowry, son of Kings assistant coach Dave Lowry, reportedly didn’t practice Monday but is expected to play.

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