From his first strides on ice skates, Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s parents have been there for him. They shuttled him to and from the rink. They bought him new equipment when he outgrew his gear.
Understandably, it was emotional when Anderson-Dolan phoned his parents, Nancy and Fran, with the news last Sunday that he made the Kings’ opening-night roster.
“They were both crying,” Anderson-Dolan said. “Obviously they’re proud of me. They’ve worked incredibly hard to help me get to this point. When that first game comes, they’re definitely going to be there.”
The Anderson-Dolans became a special story at last year’s draft because Jaret and his brother, Dorian, were raised by two moms. Jaret has actively promoted the LGBTQ community and stood out as an aggressive, intense forward who doesn’t stop coming at the opposition. He will at least start the season with the Kings along with fellow Calgary, Canada product Austin Wagner.
“It’s something I’ve been working on my whole life, and especially this past summer, it’s something I really wanted to do,” Anderson-Dolan said. “When [Kings director of player personnel Nelson Emerson] called me, it was a just a lot of excitement. I called my parents right after because they obviously have a big part in getting me here. It was a lot of joy and trying to share that moment with them.”
Anderson-Dolan turned 19 last month, and if he makes his NHL debut Friday, he will be the youngest to play for the Kings since Craig Redmond in 1984.
Nancy and Fran will try to be on hand for whenever Anderson-Dolan’s debuts. He would do it wearing jersey No. 28 after he switched from No. 50. He said the number change didn’t have to do with the last player to wear 28, Jarret Stoll, but Stoll reached out to him.
“He texted me and said, ‘There’s a lot of goals left in that number,’ ” Anderson-Dolan said.
Wagner, 21, only crossed paths with Anderson-Dolan once in junior hockey but finds himself a few locker stalls away. He needed six months’ recovery from surgery to repair a torn labrum and biceps tendon last summer, his first major surgery, and played 50 games with the Ontario Reign.
“It was a huge benefit having him with [Reign coach] Mike Stothers for half a year, because he teaches them what being a pro is all about,” Kings general manager Rob Blake said.
Wagner possesses blazing speed and is matter-of-fact about having it since he was a boy. “It’s just God’s gift,” he said.
Kings coach John Stevens watches Wagner eliminate icings just by chasing down the puck, and defenseman Paul LaDue said going up against Wagner in practice is a chore.
“I hate it every time,” LaDue said. “I just turn around and skate forward.”
But it’s also Wagner’s competitiveness that earned him a job. Part of it stems from competition in practice he had with Ducks forward Sam Steel when both were teammates on the Regina Pats. The two combined for 80 goals in their final season together.
They faced each other in preseason, and Wagner said he isn’t thinking ahead to a possible regular-season matchup.