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Cammalleri reunites with old linemates, Gaborik reacquaints with ice

Can two 35-year-old forwards rejuvenate their careers, and their team?

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Tampa Bay Lightning Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Time for a few updates on the Los Angeles Kings’ veterans in the nascent preseason.

Marian Gaborik has started skating again. Clay Fowler reports as follows:

Don’t get too excited—he did not travel to China with the team, and there’s still no timetable for his return. But he played admirably in the World Cup of Hockey in 2016, and fans want to see Gaborik regain his scoring touch to help the Kings, and put in work for the 7 year, $34.125M contract he signed in 2014.

More interestingly, the line of Mike Cammalleri, Dustin Brown, and Anze Kopitar has reunited:

The “Nostalgia Line” was unveiled on the first day of Kings training camp.

Michael Cammalleri skated with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, just as they did nearly a decade ago. The only thing different was Cammalleri’s jersey number — he wears No.14 — but the dynamic was the same.

“He’s open every shift, every play,” Brown said. “Even if you score a goal, he’s still open. Not much has changed.”

The Cammalleri-Brown-Kopitar line was a force in 2007-08, when Cammalleri last played for the Kings. (Side note: Rob Blake was also a player on that team, his final season with the Kings.) The 2007-08 offensive stats of the trio are as follows (from hockey-reference.com):

  • Cammalleri: 19 G, 28 A
  • Brown: 33 G, 27 A (whoa!)
  • Kopitar: 32 G, 45 A (whoa!)

Brown or Kopitar assisted on 9 of Cammalleri’s goals. Cammalleri or Kopitar assisted on 21 of Brown’s (Cammalleri assisted on 8). Cammalleri or Brown assisted on 18 of Kopitar’s (Cammalleri assisted on 6).

You know the story—Cammalleri tried to negotiate a $6M annual salary in 2007, but lost in arbitration to Dean Lombardi, and settled for $6.7M over two years. A rib injury and decline in production led to a trade to the Calgary Flames in 2008. He scored 39 goals and 43 assists with Calgary in 2008-09, but never matched that production (or played 70 games in a season) again.

The question that remains is, can the now 35-year-old Cammalleri make plays again with Brown and Kopitar? Simply put, though the Kings are optimistic, we can’t be. Cammalleri, after playing 18 games without a goal, was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career in 2016-17. He scored only 10 goals and 21 assists in 61 games, and a hand injury ended his season. Speaking of injuries, his history is well-documented—Cammalleri has missed approximately 150 games due to injury since 2005.