|Loktionov in preseason (photo: M. Zampelli)
Along with his comments about Slava Voynov and the new defensive pairings (posted in earlier articles last hour), Kings coach Terry Murray had plenty to say about the ‘other’ Russian who’s now in town, forward Andrei Loktionov.
Following practice, Murray talked a little bit about the expectations surrounding Loktionov right now…
“He’ll be playing on one of the top two lines here, playing with Richards, that’s an important position that he’s in. Same as Voynov, he’s in a position to play some important minutes.”
The move to put him on the left wing is at least eyebrow raising, as Murray and Loktionov both spent quite a bit of time late last season and over the summer talking about the fact the young Russian is better suited for the center position. Murray addressed that point as well…
“Well, I had many different scenarios in my mind on how it would all come together in the summertime, thinking Loktionov would really feed off of his opportunity from last year. I felt his training camp was off, quite frankly. in the exhibition games, in the practices, I saw some hesitation, I saw him not handling the puck, not transporting the puck through the middle of the ice and creating in the offensive zone, as I envisioned it would be. So, with that, that’s where it ended up at the start of the year – with him back in Manchester. Now, it’s a situation where I need a player to fit into a position. We’re pretty much set down the middle. If he’s going to fit in and be a player for us, he’s up on an IR replacing Penner, we’re looking for offense and we’re looking for goals. We feel with Loktionov fitting in there now, he’s going to give us that same look – creativity, he’s a hockey player, he has a high IQ on the ice, I think. He’s going to make plays with Richards and Brown.”
He went on to talk about any motivational tactics he may use on the two players just called up from Manchester…
“I’m not going to motivate them,” said Murray. “I’m telling you guys right now and they can read it in the paper tomorrow – this is an opportunity for them to show us what they can do. They’re up on an IR, but they’re not kids. They’ve been pros now for a couple of years. So, it’s an opportunity to show the organization where their game is at and how they’re going to fit it, impress us, force us to do something and force us to think about it. It’s a great opportunity for them.”
He later added – “Pro players have to motivate themselves, that’s your job as a player – is to get yourself ready to play hockey. It’s an 82-game season, it’s a grind out there. If there’s any need for anybody to go over there and kick your butt to get going, we’ve got some problems.”
Full comments from Murray on Voynov, Johnson, Doughty, Mitchell, etc. are up on the homepage.
Also, check out an exclusive pic here of a toothless Dustin Penner following practice today.