A tribute video played on the jumbotron that showed his big on-ice achievements and charitable endeavors off the ice. Stoll played with Los Angeles for seven seasons, a span of 506 games with the Kings and the Staples Center crowd of 18,230 gave Stoll a standing ovation for his successful tenure with the team.
During this moment the official stood at ease, delaying the draw. He allowed Stoll to just enjoy the moment in an arena where he achieved some of his greatest on-ice success in his NHL career with two Stanley Cups.
The game was Stoll’s first back in Los Angeles since he was not re-signed by the Kings last offseason.
“Obviously chills everywhere through your body. Just wanted it to end as quickly as possible,” Stoll said of the tribute. “I would have gotten emotional or started to maybe. Just looked at (Trevor Lewis) in the faceoff and was like ‘let’s go!’”
Said Wild teammate Ryan Suter, "It was a great showing of respect."
Stoll played 14:06 and won 57 percent of his faceoffs.
With around 7:25 left in the second period Stoll tried to swipe a rebound past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick in his one real offensive flash. The Wild defeated the Kings 3-0 to snap a five-game losing streak and Stoll played a role as an agitating defensive-minded center.
“He’s playing really well on the ice for us. Tonight they bumped him up lines and he’s played really well. You feel like each game he’s playing more and more,” Wild forward Zach Parise said. “He’s playing a lot of important D zone draws for us and at important times of the game. A lot of penalty killing. He’s been a really good addition for us and you can never have enough depth down the middle and I think he’s helped us out a lot there.”
With the Kings, Stoll was a third-line force – someone the team leaned on during their runs to two Stanley Cups. During his time with the Kings, Stoll never was worse than 50 percent in the faceoff dot.
The Kings looked at Stoll as a trusted leader as someone who always picked up his game in big situations.
“He helped teach me how to be a better pro,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty told LA Kings Insider recently, “He was good in the gym, doing a lot of that kind of stuff, and very good at preparing himself for games and practices. When he got on the ice he was a hard worker and he led by example that way, and just off the ice in everyday life, whether it was something to do with my house or my car or whatever it may be, he was always there to help.”
Recently off the ice was a little more of a struggle for Stoll. He was arrested under suspicion of drug possession at a Las Vegas pool last offseason. Stoll pled guilty to one count “provoking commission of breach of peace” and another count of trespass.
After Stoll’s arrest, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi met with Stoll and characterized his conversation with the player as “Probably one of the most gut-wrenching meetings I’ve had in my career and I’ve had meetings with lots of players.”
At the time Stoll was a pending unrestricted free agent and didn’t appear to fit into LA’s long-term plans. He signed a one-year contract with the New York Rangers in the offseason. There, Stoll was buried on the fourth line and lost his role.
The Wild were willing to give Stoll another chance when they claimed him off waivers from the Rangers in December. So far they’ve seen nothing but professionalism from the veteran.
With New York he had just three points in 29 games played. With Minnesota he has one goal and one assist in 18 games.
“We’ve played against him. He’s a guy that who you coach competing against him you have an awful lot of respect for him. You know he’s a hard guy to play against. Whether it’s the faceoffs or the role he plays as a penalty killer or as a checker,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “What I didn’t quite realize is what a great pro he is as far as on the bench, the things he’s able to relay as a message to the guys in so many of these games up a goal, down a goal in the biggest moments he has the right things to say.”
The Kings have moved on from Stoll. They have new veteran leaders in their locker room with winning pedigrees in recently added Milan Lucic and Vincent Lecavalier. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, who were younger players during LA’s run of success, have also taken over. But Stoll’s legacy still resonates with the Kings with a lot of players.
"(He's) a great guy, a great leader,” Kings forward Tyler Toffoli said of Stoll. “I looked up to him when he was here and I'm happy for him."
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