H-SPORTS

Jan 13, 2013 7:00 PM by Bill Halter

The NHL is back, Kings return as defending champs

PLYMOUTH, Mich. (AP) - The NHL and its fans can finally shift their focus to the ice.

A four-month lockout ended last week. Signatures on Saturday salvaged a shortened season.

The defending champion Los Angeles Kings and most teams in the league practiced Sunday for the first time.

They're all preparing for a 48-game sprint of a season that starts in less than a week.

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty says it's going to be a grind, adding that he's happy to be back.

Los Angeles will unveil the franchise's first championship banner Saturday before hosting the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Kings are hoping to finish the season as the NHL's first repeat champions since the Detroit Red Wings hoisted Cups in 1997 and 1998.

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