|Linden Vey at Kings camp (photo: C. Ikiri)|
Linden Vey was drafted by the Kings in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, coming off a season in which he scored 24 goals and 48 assists for the Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL.
There’s nothing wrong with those numbers. They just don’t scream of a future offensive powerhouse.
A statement that was confirmed the following year when he posted near identical numbers, 24 goals and 51 points.
However, he was on MayorsManor immediately following the Super Series in November – a prestigious junior hockey event that pits Canadian players against a team of Russian all-stars. Midway through that interview he said “I don’t think you ever stop improving at any part of your game.”
It wasn’t just some cliche, throw away answer to another interview question. He meant it. And backed up his words by going on to score 46 goals and 70 assists. His 116 point total last season was better than any other player in Canadian junior hockey.
“Last summer, I spent a lot of time training with Tim (Adams, the Kings’ strength and conditioning coach) here in Los Angeles. I think that was one of the things that benefited me the most,” claimed Vey. “I’ve always struggled a little bit, conditioning and strength wise. Last year, I think I took big strides in that department, and it really helped me to be more consistent throughout the whole season.
“I could play each and every night. When we would have three games in three nights, I could play at a high level each night, whereas a couple seasons before, I would have a good first game and then I’d have to take the next couple games a little bit slower,” said Vey. “I think when you’re in condition, you can play more consistent throughout the whole season.”
Despite posting staggering numbers though, sites like HockeysFuture still don’t have him ranked among the top ten prospects in the Kings pipeline.
Compounding the perceived lack of respect, along with fellow Kings prospect (and OHL scoring champion) Tyler Toffoli, he was left off the Team Canada squad at last winter’s World Junior Championship.
“It kinda just gave me a little extra motivation to go out there and work harder in the second half,” said Vey when talking about the snub. “I knew I didn’t have the best camp I could have when I went to the World Junior camp. You have to realize that every kid in Canada wants to play on that team. There’s only 20 spots. You just have to make sure that when you go to those things you have to play well. Unfortunately for both of us (he and Toffoli), we didn’t make the team. But, we had great seasons and you can let those things affect what’s going on during the season. You just have to make sure you push through and kinda put it behind you and use it as a little bit of motivation.”
Now months later, the two wingers continue to be linked, not just as the reigning WHL and OHL scoring champs, but more recently as roommates during camp. “He’s a great guy,” Vey shared, “and it’s good to have guys like that pushing you every day.”
Yet, it wasn’t all chummy. Vey acknowledges there was some chirping going on between the two of them – “A little bit back and forth. That comes with the territory when you play in the Western League and another guy plays in the OHL. There’s always a little bit of bickering here and there.”
Other than that, Vey felt right at home, having been to a few camps in LA prior to this summer. “Every year you get a little more comfortable,” he said. “It’s good, after two months off the ice, to get back on the ice and see some of the guys that you’ve played against over the past couple years.”
And the California life-style is something he’s quickly adapting to. “I don’t think it’s too hard adjusting to this weather. In Saskatchewan, where I grew up, the winters are a little tough. When you get minus-40 in the winter, it’s not the funnest. I think I can handle the weather here,” said Vey with a smile.
When it comes to hockey players he admires though, things turn a bit more serious. “There’s a lot of guys you look up to and you just take things from each guy. There’s a lot of great players. But, I just like the way (Sidney) Crosby plays. He has that competitive edge and he’s a guy who can play in every situation,” said Vey. “You want to be that kind of guy. Not everybody has the skills that Sidney Crosby has. But, his work ethic is pretty amazing.”
With thoughts like that, it’s not a huge surprise that he’s focused more on continuing his training this summer and less on savoring the accomplishments of last season.
“It’s a big summer for me, training-wise,” explained vey. “I know I want to take the jump to pro hockey and I know I have to enjoy the last season, but be sure to put that behind me and start getting ready for next year.”
So, he’s off to Minnesota for a couple of weeks to train with some of his buddies from junior hockey. It’s what he did last summer and the subsequent point totals suggest it worked out alright. Then, it’s back to LA to get ready for Rookie Camp in September.
Beyond mimicking Crosby, Vey’s reasoning for his commitment to conditioning is simple, “You have to make sure you get stronger. You always have to keep improving as you move up, and I have to make sure to improve on all aspects of my game.”
He’s most likely headed to Manchester next season. But, who knows what camp will bring.
You can try to ignore those numbers from last season, but it’s pretty difficult, don’t you think?
Interview with WHL Scoring Champion Linden Vey – posted March 2011