EL SEGUNDO -- The so-called geezer line has been retired. Ryan Smyth was shipped back to Edmonton at his own request, Justin Williams promoted to the top line and Jarret Stoll dropped one slot back to the third grouping.
Stoll doesn’t mind; he didn’t like the name anyway.
“I was only 28 years old,” he says with a laugh.
But the change in scenery for Stoll has been the biggest adjustment of the three. No longer is he winged by skilled scorers who can receive one of his passes and swiftly turn it into a goal, or provide him the perfect feed as he cuts through the middle of the ice.
Stoll is now part of the energy group, responsible for far less glamorous tasks but those that are just as vital to a successful team. Winning faceoffs to start a penalty kill, matching up against the opponent’s top scoring line or using a stiff hip check to jar the puck loose along the boards.
According to Kings coach Terry Murray, the veteran center is performing all those duties to perfection, as well as a few others.
“Stolly has done a very good job here in the early part of the season, not only with his play but the adjustment emotionally and mentally,” Murray said. “He takes it all very serious, he approaches it the right way every day and comes to the dressing room with a smile on his face.”
Of course, if Stoll can help put points on the board, that’s a huge bonus. Stoll assisted on the first goal Tuesday night and scored the second in a 5-0 victory against the St. Louis Blues in the home opener at Staples Center, his first points of the season.
Stoll was a 20-goal scorer for the Kings last season, so he’s no stranger to the scoring column. While leading the third line, Stoll realizes he won’t be counted on to light the lamp as often, but is still wise to know every point his line generates will go a long way toward determining the team's overall success.
“If we have three lines scoring on a regular basis -- it’s not going to happen throughout the season -- but try to be consistent in that area, I think we’re going to have a good season,” he said. “Teams that do well, teams that win, they have at least three lines scoring and contributing and getting scoring chances.”
Playing on the third line also means not getting too comfortable with your wing mates. He has already seen Kyle Clifford replaced by Ethan Moreau on his left side, with the always-versatile Brad Richardson remaining on his right.
“During the game things happen, guys get hurt, guys are in the penalty box and things change,” Stoll said. “We’re all used to playing with different guys in here, so it’s nothing knew to me.”
Murray said one of the most impressive qualities in Stoll is his ability to be a leader in the locker room and on the ice.
“He’s such a pro about his game.” Murray said. “That’s why he’s in our leadership group. He’s one of those guys that you can talk to and he’ll spread the message.”
Now he just needs to find a new name for his line.