The Los Angeles Kings will open their season Friday evening against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center with Ilya Kovalchuk returning to the NHL after a five-season absence.
The Kings signed the 35-year-old forward to a three-year contract worth $6.25 million per season July 1. He played the previous five seasons with SKA St. Petersburg of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.
Kovalchuk scored 417 goals in 12 NHL seasons with the Atlanta Thrasher and New Jersey Devils from 2001-13. His 0.51 goals-per-game percentage ranks 18th all-time in league history.
The Kings 22-player opening night roster includes center Jaret Anderson-Dolan, the youngest player to make the Kings roster since Craig Redmond in 1984. The Calgary, Alberta, native turned 19 on Sept. 12.
Fans are invited to see Kings players arrive around 4 p.m. and walk a black carpet, symbolizing the color of their home jersey.
The team is advising fans to be in their seats by 7:20 p.m. to watch the opening presentation, which include player introductions and the singing of the national anthem by Pia Toscano, who finished ninth in the 2011 season of the Fox singing competition “American Idol.”
All fans in attendance will receive an art print.
San Jose opened its season Wednesday with a 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
The Kings returned to the playoffs in the 2017-18 season after a one-season absense but were swept in the opening round by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, who reached the Stanley Cup Final.
The Kings “have upgraded many of our in-arena amenities including audio, sound mixing, video production, lighting, atmosphere and our food and beverage selections,” Kings President Luc Robitaille wrote in an open letter released Thursday.
The game will be televised by Fox Sports West. The Kings no longer broadcast games on the radio, instead streaming them on the LA Kings Audio Network, a custom station available on iHeartRadio, iHeartMedia’s digital music, podcast, on demand and live streaming radio service.
“Our streams will continue to not only serve our fans in a traditional sense but the LA Kings Audio Network will also feature additional content that our fans will enjoy listening to,” Robitaille said.