SALT LAKE CITY — The NHL is headed back to Utah again.
The Los Angeles Kings and the Vancouver Canucks are in town for the second year in a row to face off in an NHL preseason game at Vivint Arena. The matchup is slated to start at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
There are local ties on the Kings, with local players Daniel Brickley and Trevor Lewis hailing from Utah. Brickley, who was born in Sandy, is entering his second year in the NHL as a defender, while Lewis, born in Salt Lake City, is heading into his 12th season as a center.
Lewis praised the first iteration of the Salt Lake Shootout and is excited for Saturday’s matchup.
“It was good. I didn’t really know what to expect with the turnout coming in there and we actually had a really good turnout. It was a lot of fun and I’m excited to do it again,” Lewis said.
Lewis is a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Kings. Both times, he took the cup around Salt Lake City, signing autographs with it at the Maverik Center and parading it around the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium at halftime of a Utah football game.
“It’s home to me. I grew up there and I’ve still got all my family there and a lot of friends. It was a good place to grow up. The hockey community is pretty close there, and I still stay in touch with a lot of people. It’s home for me,” Lewis said of Salt Lake.
Lewis gave away his allotted 30 tickets and estimates there will be more friends and family that bought tickets in attendance.
“It will be awesome. Any time you get a chance to play in front of all your family and friends, it’s pretty cool and pretty exciting,” Lewis said.
Lewis, who missed significant time last season with a fractured foot, heads into the season feeling healthy.
“I feel great. It healed up just good, like it never happened before. We got a long summer of training on and off the ice and getting back on the ice and I feel really good, feel strong and ready to get going,” Lewis said.
The Kings finished last in the Western Conference last season with a record of 31-42-9, accruing just 71 points. Los Angeles fired head coach John Stevens early last season before finishing out the season with interim head coach Willie Desjardins.
In the offseason, the Kings hired Todd McLellan as the club’s 29th head coach in franchise history.
“Coach has been great. He’s hard on you when he needs to be, and he’s pretty understanding and fair. I think if you work hard and you learn the system, he’s going to be there for you. We’ve had good pace so far in camp and everything is upbeat. We’re trying to change a lot of system here, so it takes a little bit of time, but it’s nice to get some games under us again and hopefully we can keep this thing going,” Lewis said.