Following the morning skate that officially kicked off the LA Kings 2011 Rookie Camp, here are some comments from the two guys who are front and center…plus, a smidge of Ray Kaunisto.
“I’m feeling pretty good. It’s nice to be back out there and get into the hockey season a bit,” began Brandon Kozun. “It’s been a long summer and it’s nice to get back on the ice.”
He hasn’t felt much of a rivalry with Tyler Toffoli just yet though. “Everyone is coming into camp with one goal and that’s to make the team,” said Kozun. “So, you’re not competing with one guy – you’re competing with everyone. You want to go out there and show your stuff and you hope (the coaches and management) like what they see.”
If he finds his way onto the Kings’ roster this season, it would mean a little more than it normally might, because – in his words – “The Kings are a very good team and a Stanley Cup contender. It would be exciting to be part of something like that.”
Kozun said he felt comfortable in camp today, especially because Mark Morris (the head coach in Manchester) was running the drills.
However, fellow Monarch Kaunisto may have been the one thing he didn’t enjoy about today.
Kaunisto got his chirps in too, don’t worry – saying some of the 8-year olds who took to the ice following practice were taller than Kozun and many of them could skate better, as well.
Meanwhile, Toffoli had his game face on and was already looking ahead to the showdown with the Coyotes on Wednesday.
“It’s day one of practice and we’re trying to get all the guys going,” Toffoli explained. “It’s a competition, not just (with Kozun), but everybody here We need to pull together and play those two games against Phoenix next week. So, I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet (between the two of us). But, maybe we will as camp goes along.”
Having already been to LA for a few camps now has made things a little easier on Toffoli. Plus, going to Manchester for a few weeks at the end of last season helped too.
“It’s not jut knowing the coaches,” said Toffoli, when talking about his comfort level at camp. “It’s also knowing the players and all the boys. Knowing a lot of the guys makes me feel more comfortable. And the more comfortable somebody feels, the better they’re going to perform.”
Specifically, he says he’s probably bonded most with Jake Muzzin and Jordan Nolan – both are OHL guys he played against a couple of times. “We really get along well and when I went to Manch last year, they pulled me in and let me just play how I play.”
Does he have any expectations for camp? “I just want to do my best here. That’s all I can ask of myself. I feel like I’ve come here in 10-times better shape than last year. Obviously, there’s still a long way to go. But, I felt great out on the ice this morning. I just need to keep it up and hopefully I can play a few games and capitalize on my chances.”
He might have already figured out how to be a King too – he worked out this summer with Claude Giroux – a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
On the ice though, he’s putting it all together. “I don’t just score goals. I feel that I work hard and I’m good with the puck…the type of game I play, sure I scored goals last year – but everyone on my like took turns back-checking, forechecking and working hard in the corners. I think I can mix in just about anything into my game.”
That’s part of why he’s ranked so highly among the prospects.