LOCALS IN THE NHL

Utah NHL Players Return Home For LA Kings Preseason Game

Sep 24, 2018, 11:16 PM | Updated: Sep 25, 2018, 12:33 am
Daniel Brickley speaks to the media before the Salt Lake Shootout....
Daniel Brickley speaks to the media before the Salt Lake Shootout.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah has only produced five players in the National Hockey League’s entire history. Two of them will be on the ice for the Los Angeles Kings at Vivint SmartHome Arena.

On Monday night, Utahns Trevor Lewis and Daniel Brickley will be on the ice for the Los Angeles Kings in the first-ever Salt Lake Shootout against the Vancouver.

Hometown Support

“It’s exciting,” said Lewis. “Get to see a bunch of family and friends here and to play with Daniel, it’ll be a pretty cool night.”

Lewis grew up in Salt Lake City, but moved away to play more competitive hockey in Colorado when he was 15. He’s had a long and productive career, playing with the Kings for his entire NHL career. He did briefly play for the Utah Grizzlies while the league was in a lockout. He says that the level of play in the Beehive State has increased dramatically since he was kid.

“I think since the Olympics and coming back here, hockey’s grown a lot,” he said.

There’s perhaps no greater example of the growth and the increased caliber of players in the Beehive State than Brickley. The nephew of former Grizzlies great, Andy Brickley, Daniel won two state titles at Skyline before leaving to play junior hockey and then at the college level at Minnesota State.

He made his NHL debut last season when he appeared in a game against the Minnesota Wild on April 6th. He managed to find the scoresheet, picking up an assist in the Kings’ 5-4 overtime victory.

“Good to be home,” said Brickley. “Very fortunate and happy to be back here playing in front of friends and family.

Both players are expecting a lot of hometown support for the preseason game. Lewis guesses he’ll have a cheering section of about 20-30, but added “Daniel’s might be louder.”

Teammates For A Short Time, Friends For A Lifetime

For both Lewis and Daniel Brickley, the journey to NHL began in the Cottonwood Heights ice sheet in Salt Lake City. Lewis, a 31-year old forward who was drafted by the Kings in the first round of the 2006 draft, lived right across the street from the ice sheet as a kid and remembers it well.

“My dad used to take me over there when I was 2 to start skating,” said Lewis. “And I was pretty much there every day.”

Although they just recently became NHL teammates when Brickley signed his rookie contract with the Kings, the two have known each other for quite some time. Both their fathers played together at the rink for years. According to Lewis, he’s known Brickley basically since the 23-year old was born.

“He was always a little but younger than me, but I always knew about him playing hockey and we talked a little bit. And then when he went through his process of signing here we got really close again,” said Lewis.

Brickley Has High Expectations

Brickley came to the Kings as one of the most heavily pursued undrafted free agents after a brilliant career at the junior hockey and collegiate level.  According to Kings president Luc Robitaille, the sky is the limit for Brickley as he begins his career for the Kings, who were eliminated from the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by Vegas last spring.

“He’s been really good in camp,” said Robitaille “He’s a great skater. He’s going to play in the NHL for a long time.”

Why Play In Utah?

As for why the Kings are in Utah, it might have more to do with the management’s fondness for the area more than Lewis’ and Brickley’s ties to the state.

Robitaille and Kings general manger Rob Blake both have homes in the state and frequent the Park City area quite often.

“We love the area, we love the people here,” said Robitaille. “For us, we knew this would be a win-win. We thought it would be great for our players to come and know the area and have fun playing in front of a good crowd.”

The game will be the first NHL preseason game in Utah in 10 years. The last game was held October 5th 2008 at the then-E Center in West Valley City between the Kings and the San Jose Sharks. The Kings will return to Salt Lake City for the next two years as part of a three-year agreement with Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment.

The puck will drop Monday at 7 p.m. at Vivint SmartHome Arena.

 

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