Rob Blake Interview Part 1 – on Mersch, AHL in Ontario

Blake Rob Kings by David Sheehan

After the Ontario Reign’s 3-0 win over the San Jose Barracuda, Reign General Manger Rob Blake met with the media postgame.

On Michael Mersch playing in Ontario Compared to LA:

“I thought he had a tremendous training camp also in that aspect.  He does a lot of things that are hard to find in the league, puck possession down low and the way he creates things in front of the net.  You see it time and time again in the games you’re watching him.  He’s very good, he’s come down set his mind on the bigger prize here and he’s going to develop at this level.”

On what Mersch is doing better now compared to the end of last year:

“I don’t know if it’s anything better, I think we saw what he’s capable of during the playoffs, but sometimes you rate these guys on how quick they adapt to the league.  He’s coming out of college and you saw within 40 games last year he’s starting to understand the league and he’s starting to take over.  Basically the message to him this year out of camp was continue that and things will open up for you.”

On playing at the NHL pace compared to the AHL and Mersch’s leadership:

“The leadership part he can pick up here and quick after a year.  They had a team going on and winning the Calder Cup and things he was a big part of that.  He’ll be able to pick that leadership up and the pace he played at was six preseason games, all of them for us, so he’s understanding what that level is going to be like.  He was around the NHL guys that whole training camp so he understands that.”

On Mersch being able to called up at any time and fill a role:

“For sure, and what he does now is he hones his game at this level so when the opportunity comes it’s not just a given opportunity he’s ready to make that step and doesn’t look back after that.”

On how often they give feedback to players:

“We talk quite a bit, we have a development staff that’s down here very often.  I mean it’s only been maybe a month since they’ve been up and running here and we’ve seen the benefits time and time again.  We just saw it a couple days ago with Jamie McBain, one of our players came down with the flu in San Jose we were able to call him in the afternoon.  But as far as the, our guys are here a lot, we had a group here last night, we’ll have a development group here next week. We’re in constant contact.”

On what he’s seen that’s surprised or pleased him:

“Always ready to compete, I think that’s one thing Coach Stothers has put into the program from the start of last year and it carried them on to the playoffs and you see the game here.  I think the goaltending, Peter Budaj has been able to solidify that with the injury to Bartosak and losing Berube to waivers.  Our goaltending situation was stuff that was not planned and you come into this season and it takes a turn, I think that solidified itself.  Having Schultz down here too, another veteran who understands the game and understands what he does in his off ice preparation and things helps these young guys learn.”

Part two of the interview can be found here.

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