The population of Lindstrom, Minn., was around 3,000 when Blake Lizotte grew up there. The town near the Wisconsin border is surrounded by lakes and almost resembles an island.
But Lizotte could see the NHL from there.
“I’ve been thinking about that for 20 years now,” Lizotte said Thursday after his first practice with the Kings. “Since I was about 2 years old, I’d go to my back pond, in the back of my house … scoring the game winner in the Stanley Cup Final in the NHL and dreaming about that debut. And, actually, I used to play the national anthem in my living room, playing floor hockey. I’d stand there. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”
That will probably happen Saturday, interim coach Willie Desjardins said, in the Kings’ season finale. Lizotte signed with the Kings days after his college career ended with St. Cloud State. The ensuing 48 hours took him from Minnesota to El Segundo, where he skated on a line with Jeff Carter and Kyle Clifford.
“It’s definitely a little dream come true,” Lizotte said. “I was kind of a little star struck out there at first, but I started to settle down and felt good at the end, so it was a good day.”
Lizotte got his unofficial welcome when Drew Doughty walked by and teased him about doing an interview without his shirt, although Lizotte was probably too polite to have media members wait for him to fully change.
Lizotte will fit right in, going by the St. Cloud State-Kings pipeline that’s been established. Former Kings Nic Dowd and Kevin Gravel and current Kings winger Jonny Brodzinski are St. Cloud alums. Another Kings prospect, Mikey Eyssimont, was also a Husky.
“It’s more of a comfortability level than anything,” Lizotte said. “I felt comfortable here and felt it was a good spot to come into right now.”
Desjardins said the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Lizotte showed quickness and skill in his first look at the 21-year-old. Lizotte said he’s overcome his size with competitiveness and makes his mark by “not being scared to play against anyone.”
His debut gives the Kings one ray of light going into the offseason. Their win Tuesday at Arizona meant they cannot finish last in the NHL and therefore won’t have the best odds of landing the No. 1 pick in the draft.
And Lizotte’s debut could have an emotional element if he plays against St. Cloud teammate Jimmy Schuldt, a recent signee by the Vegas Golden Knights — after both were eliminated in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Lewis reaches out
Trevor Lewis said he texted Darcy Kuemper after he accidentally injured Kuemper in a freak play Tuesday. Lewis’ stick got caught under Kuemper’s mask and the Coyotes goalie went down writhing in pain.
“I knew my stick was up and I got pushed from behind,” Lewis said. “I thought it went up [on his cheek] but it was the eye. I heard him scream right away. We tried to wave the trainer over there. It was pretty scary.”
Kuemper was a well-liked teammate with the Kings last season. He reportedly felt good enough to start Thursday night.
“Hopefully everything’s OK,” Lewis said. “It was kind of a freak accident. I don’t think I could get my stick up there if I tried a hundred more times.”
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 1110, iHeartRadio (LA Kings Audio Network).
Update: Kurtis MacDermid (upper-body injury) and Brendan Leipsic (lower-body) skated before practice but Desjardins said both are “probably doubtful.” Sam Steel and Max Jones are two of a franchise-record eight Ducks rookies to score their first goal this season. The Ducks had seven rookies score in 1997-98.