When last season ended, one arm of the Kings organization immediately began the search for a new coach, president and general manager.
Another arm simultaneously launched into its own extensive project, planning the first ever NHL games in China.
The Kings and Canucks leave for Shanghai on Sunday to begin a groundbreaking week in China that has been a long time in the making.
Whether planning an excursion to the top of the 1,536-foot tall Oriental Pearl TV tower in Shanghai or calculating the ideal sleep patterns for the Kings, the fleet of employees designing the trip needed to account for nearly every minute of the coming week.
In addition to preseason games on Thursday in Shanghai and Sept. 23 in Beijing, the Kings will participate in youth hockey clinics the organization has been conducting in China for more than two years.
With the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the country has set in motion a massive movement to develop youth sports of the winter variety.
Estimates are that China will have more than 500 hockey rinks completed less than three years from now, meaning only Canada, Russia and the U.S. will have more.
“Our goal is to go over there and grow the game and introduce the game to 1.3 billion people,” said Mike Altieri, the Kings Senior Vice President of Communications and Broadcasting. “I think that’s the critical component of this whole experience.”
Given that the trip is taking place during training camp, which began on Wednesday, another critical undertaking for the Kings is making sure their preparation for the regular season isn’t compromised. There is a 15-hour time change in Shanghai, to which the flight from LAX is nearly 14 hours.
There have been great measures taken to ensure minimal jet lag, among many other concerns addressed by the Kings staff.
A sleep expert was consulted about how best to pattern the Kings’ rest. The decision was made to sleep only four or five hours of the flight to Shanghai. That leaves nine or ten hours to fill.
“We’ve got lots of work to do,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “It’ll give us an opportunity to sit down with each player. Coaches can talk with D pairs or lines. (Head strength and conditioning coach) Matt Price has even put together a dynamic warm-up, an activity that’s available to them if they want to get up and move around.”
Plans for in-flight activities required relatively short-term planning compared to the effort to ensure that each player sail smoothly…