The retired numbers and banners at Bell Centre struck a chord in Jaret Anderson-Dolan when he skated under them Thursday morning.
When the Kings rookie was growing up, one of his mothers, Fran, was a big Montreal Canadiens fan.
“There’s a bunch of pictures of me when I was younger wearing Canadiens jerseys,” Anderson-Dolan said. “It’s kind of funny … I was never a Canadiens fan. She put it on me when I was a baby and then took some pictures. I didn’t have a choice.”
Anderson-Dolan, 19, will make his debut in this building when the Kings play the Canadiens. It will be his second NHL game, and the stage can’t be much bigger. Not only is it the Canadiens’ home opener, but there is a pre-game ceremony honoring members of the 1993 Stanley Cup-winning team, which, of course, ended a magical run by Wayne Gretzky and the Kings in a five-game series win.
“Everyone’s been telling me how fun it is to play here, so I’m super excited for tonight,” Anderson-Dolan said. “It’s going to be a good night.”
Anderson-Dolan didn’t know he was playing until the morning skate when he took line rushes with Michael Amadio and Jeff Carter. He said Fran was going to try to fly in from Calgary, Canada. Fran still has some Canadiens mementos, including a chair from the old Montreal Forum, said Anderson-Dolan, who was raised by mothers Fran and Nancy.
“I think her mom was a fan and then she was kind of a fan, and she kind of got born into it,” Anderson-Dolan said of Fran. “Until I got drafted here, she was die-hard. I think she still likes them a little bit more than the Kings.”
One of the traits that Anderson-Dolan has shown is his maturity. He’s well-spoken off the ice and has tried to absorb as much as he can from the veterans around him. Kings coach John Stevens has called him an “interesting” person and said Thursday that a bright spotlight won’t rattle him.
“I don’t think he gets intimidated by the moment,” Stevens said. “He looks more excited than he does nervous, and I think he’s excited about playing tonight.”
Montreal’s ceremony will strike a chord for Kings general manager Rob Blake, a member of the ’93 Kings team that seemed destined to win the Cup. One of the immediate memories he has is playing in the Montreal Forum.