LOS ANGELES – Former Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll faces a familiar foe on the ice on Thursday night when he laces up his skates at Staples Center to face off with his former team.
Stoll won two Stanley Cups with the Kings in 2012 and 2014, but returns to Staples Center on the opposing team for the first time since he made headlines when he was arrested in Las Vegas for cocaine and ecstasy possession.
Speaking to the media at Staples Center in the locker room before taking the ice against his former team, Stoll said it would be "weird" to stake opposite so many good friends.
"It will be a different animal with all the personal relationships and history," Stoll said.
Stoll played seven seasons for the Kings helping them lift two-Stanley Cup Trophies. But, after Los Angeles failed to reach the playoffs last season, Stoll was arrested and plead guilty to two misdemeanor charges. Due to the circumstances, the Kings chose not to bring Stoll back and he signed with the New York Rangers as a free agent.
Stoll never saw the ice in New York and the Rangers placed him on waivers in mid-December where he was claimed by the Minnesota Wild.
"It will be fun, but it'll be weird," he said before the game. "Things that were so routine, and now everything is different. Playing the game against those guys will be fun… I'll just have to make sure I'm focused and ready to go. I just want our team to win and do well and have a good game."
Stoll scored his first goal with the Minnesota Wild last night in the team's 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Despite the abrupt end to his Kings career, Stoll said he still keeps in touch with many of his former teammates including Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Trevor Lewis, Matt Greene and Jeff Carter.
"We had a very, very close team, and we all lived close together," Stoll said in conclusion. "We had a really good bond, and I still do with a lot of those guys. I can't say anything negative about my seven years there."
The Kings honored Stoll with a video tribute and featuring the theme song from "Welcome Back, Kotter." Stoll seemed touched by the tribute as he stopped to wave at the Staples Center crowd who gave him a standing ovation.