Anderson Fully Committed to Future with LA Kings

At the moment, you’d be hard pressed to find a recent LA Kings draft pick with more momentum than Mikey Anderson. Ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the organization just a few months ago, the 19-year-old defenseman recently signed his three-year Entry Level Contract and is now officially a pro hockey player. This comes after spending two seasons at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where he won back-to-back national championships while patrolling the Bulldogs blueline. He also earned a medal at the World Junior Championships for the second straight year, this time serving as captain for Team USA.

We caught up with him soon after signing his contract and here’s what he had to say…

On why he made the decision to turn pro at this time:

There were a couple different reasons. I thought hockey-wise, and mentally, I was ready to make the jump to the next level. With the way my team in Duluth did this season [winning the championship], it made me feel more comfortable about being able to make to the jump to pro hockey. And with LA, it seems like there is a lot of opportunity right now. After last season, which definitely wasn’t the year LA was looking to have, I felt like it was a good time to get my foot in and try to help the team out in any way I can.

On how attending Kings Development Camp last summer impacted him, if at all:

Being around the facilities and all of the organizational staff and people involved, it really gives you a taste of what it’s like and what’s going on. Then, when you go back to school in the fall, it really motivates you to push yourself to get better and refine the things in your game that you want to work on. Getting a little taste of that and seeing it early gives you that extra motivation to want to succeed.

On that moment when he found out he would be captain of Team USA for the 2019 WJC:

I knew going into the tournament we were going to have a great leadership group with the five guys we had coming back. We had talked with Coach Hastings throughout the first two weeks of camp; whoever was going to be leading, we were all going to be supportive of it and it was going to be a group effort. Then when I was named captain, it’s a pretty special moment, especially with [my brother] Joey having done it the year before. It’s really cool for my family and it was awesome having so many of them there at the tournament. It’s just an honor. There have been so many great American hockey players and great leaders, to even think of being in a category with some of those guys, it’s pretty special.

On if he had that ‘hockey fan’ moment when Canada lost at the WJC, realizing there wouldn’t be a Canada-USA game this time around:

Obviously, that game would have been great. It’s always fun watching Canada and the U.S. play. I think everybody was kind of shocked because we knew Canada had a good team. At the same time, it wasn’t as big of a surprise as time went on because we saw how good Finland was too. Every country has a lot of great, talented players. They say, ‘You can never count anyone out’ and this year’s tournament really showed that. On any given day, any country can have a chance to win and I think that’s due to the rise of the game and the development that its taking place across the world. [For us], our coaches talked a lot about what we needed to do to be successful and we focused more on our game, not what the other countries were doing. I think that’s one of the reasons we found success at the tournament.

On staying connected to the rest of the hockey world during the season, including Joey debuting with the New Jersey Devils:

I try my best to stay updated on what’s going on. I’ve been a hockey fan my whole life and love following it, especially what’s going on in the NHL. I’d say I did a good job this season keeping updated on what was going on with the Kings organization. And with my brother being with New Jersey all year, we followed him a good chunk. I was watching his games whenever I had the chance to. Obviously, it was disappointing to not be able to be there [for his first NHL game], but it’s a sacrifice that we have to make. He wanted to be at the World Junior games and at the Frozen Four [to see me], but he wasn’t able to. We do a really good job understanding what each other are going through, though, and we have a lot of respect for what each of us are doing. I wish I could have been there for all of those moments, but I couldn’t be happier for him.

On the benefits of having an older brother who recently experienced leaving college, turning pro, reaching the NHL, etc.:

Occasionally, I’ll talk to him about what he’s going through and what his experiences have been like. He likes to share those things and he’s very helpful. He’s my biggest fan and my biggest advocate at all times. So when he has the chance to let me know the path that he’s been on and what it’s like, that’s really helpful and I appreciate the insight he gives me. It helps me prepare to be ready for whatever is coming in my future.

On the role his family played in making the decision to turn pro:

Coming off the championship, I just wanted to go take my time with whatever I decided to do – to let some of the emotions calm down from such an exciting time. I wanted to enjoy the championship with my team and all the fans in Duluth. Then I wanted to go home and talk with my family and evaluate what would be best for my development. Talking to my brother and my dad was important to me, for sure. My dad watched me and he knows how I approach the game, what I’m able to do on the ice. Again, my brother has been through it. He had to make the same decision. It helped to hear his experience and about the pros and cons of choosing to leave school early.

On if saying, ‘He has nothing left to prove at the college level’ is too simple of a statement when talking about the decision and his future:

It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. The group of guys in Duluth, it’s unbelievable – the whole program, the school, the city, it’s a first class place to be and to live in. My two years here were outstanding. Not just winning titles both years; it goes to everything, things beyond the rink. It’s everything across campus and the fact Duluth is a great place to play. When it came down to it, you’re making a leap of faith to jump into pro hockey. That made it tough to weigh the options. Coming back, it would have been comfortable. It was definitely one of the hardest choices I’ve had to make. They were both great options and it’s a good problem to have, but I’m fully committed to the decision I made and I couldn’t be happier to be an LA King.

On the possibility of spending time in the AHL before becoming a full-time NHL player:

When you look at the way the NHL works, you don’t have a lot of guys who come straight in without spending a little bit of time in the AHL. If you do, it’s pretty rare and very fortunate for them. That’s one of the things we talked about – whatever happens, you have to be fully committed to it. Wherever I play next season, in the NHL or the AHL, I’m fully committed to working on my game, developing, and making that push to be a guy in the NHL.

On being one of the guys tabbed as a potential future leader for the LA Kings organization:

Whether I have a letter on my jersey or not, I try to lead in any way I can. I try to have a good work ethic every day we’re at the rink; it doesn’t matter if we’re out on the ice or in the weight room. I try to take a day-to-day approach. I don’t worry about or try to focus on being a leader. I just try to focus on being who I know I am; in the past that’s lead to me becoming a leader. I stick to that because it’s been successful and helped the teams I’ve been on. I’m very fortunate to have that [approach] and I thank my parents for the work ethic they gave me growing up; that determination and drive that you need to be successful. That’s one of the things I take a lot of pride in. I hope people catch on and it becomes contagious.

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