Kevin Gravel talks contract, message from Kings

Gravel Kevin by D SheehanVery few players enjoy a journey filled with smooth sailing on their way to the to the NHL. Once seen on track to be a Rob Scuderi-like defenseman for the Kings, questions have been now raised over Kevin Gravel’s “compete” level.

In what can be interpreted as a challenge to the St. Cloud State alum, the Kings opted to not offer Gravel an NHL contract and instead opted to sign him to an AHL deal. What’s more, Gravel now finds himself competing to secure a spot on an ultra competitive Manchester Monarchs blue line for the upcoming season. Earlier today, he spoke exclusively to MayorsManor about his contract situation, what the Kings have said to him, and much more…

On his contract situation:

“We left Manchester for the black aces in LA, [and then I] went back home, started my summer training, and they called and offered the AHL deal, and I accepted it. I like everything that LA does. The development team has shown they are second to none – they are probably the best in the league. They’ve done nothing but good things the last couple of years here, with the two Cups and all that. I’ve just kind of got to put my work in here and go from there. It’s something I’m committed to and something that I’m willing to do.”

On what the Kings brass has said he must do to earn an NHL contract:

“Pretty much, they just said [to] make the transition to [being a] pro. Just adapt and show the work on and off the ice, and the work it takes to be a professional hockey player. It’s a great organization to be in. I’ve been getting to know the guys since I’ve been out here the last couple of week – good group of guys, so it’s going to be an exciting time.”

On what his reaction would be if he was sent to Ontario:

“Obviously, it’s a disappointment. You want to be the highest level that you can be at. With that being said, you want to play games too. Wherever they put me, I’m going to go to whatever team I’m on and do whatever I can to help that team [win], in whatever role I’m going to be at. As of right now, I’m in Manchester and I’ve been going to practice and the games so far, just trying to do the best I can and show everyone I belong here. Whatever happens with that, I’m going to be able to keep my head up, because I knew that I could do all that I could do.”

On what he focused on this offseason:

“I think just strength wise. You make the step from college to professional ranks and it obviously goes up – you’re playing against men. Guys have been doing this for a long time, and they’re grown men. That’s something that still coming for me. I need to add a little bit of weight on still, and I’m aware of that. So, this summer I really tried to work on that. I think its coming here a little bit for me. I put on a little bit of weight this summer. I had a good summer, a good camp in LA, and kind of rolled it into Manchester.”

On if strength was the biggest difference he felt transitioning from college to pros:

“I think so, yeah. Obviously, the speeds a little different, but you can kind of adapt to that. They’re grown men, and there are some 22 year olds, but you’re also playing against guys in their 30s and stuff like that. That takes a little bit to get used to, and its starting to come with a few games here.”

On if his short stint with the Monarchs last season helped his confidence coming into this year:

“Absolutely. I know I talked with Dowder about it how happy we were that we took the ATO last year and kind of got our feet wet out here, because we were kind of shocked how different professional hockey was from college hockey – just the style and all that. Coming in blind this year would have been way more challenging than it has been. Coming out here last year was a huge help. I got to know the guys on the team [and] the staff. Its monumental, those little bit of games I got in last year – just for familiarity wise and kind of knowing what to expect when you go out there and play.”

On what would make a successful season for the defenseman:

“I just want to keep getting better. You’re getting watched in every game you play now, and you just want to go out there and prove you belong at the highest level. Everyone’s ultimate goal is to play in the National Hockey League, and for us, its to play for the Los Angeles Kings. You have guys here watching every game and judging you, and you just want to be able to prove you can one day step into the lineup. Its a process. For this year go to well, its going to be a grind. It’s my first pro year and I don’t know what to expect. The goal is to keep getting better and better, and gaining confidence, and starting to make that transition to the pro lifestyle.”

Follow @AndyTonge1 on Twitter for more Monarchs new and notes…

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