Earlier today Kings’ Vice President and Assistant GM Ron Hextall was on Hockey Night in Canada radio, a show hosted by Elliotte Friedman and former goaltender Kelly Hrudey. They touched upon a myriad of topics in their 15-minute conversation, including Drew Doughty, Keaton Ellerby, Dustin Penner, Jonathan Quick and more. For those who missed the show, here are Hextall’s full comments…
– On the Kings being the same team they were last year (and dealing with the same issues): “I think that’s the way we’ve built our team in terms of we’re a hard team to play against. We’re a big, physical group and when we play against you, you’re going to know it after the game. I think the lack of goal scoring at times is perplexing to us. Somehow we don’t score as many goals as we should. I don’t think as a group, but I do think when you look at our group and individually – what they’ve accomplished, not only last year, but in terms of goal scoring, I think there’s more there. And I think individually our guys need to find it and start being a little more desperate to score goals. It’s no secret nowadays, it’s hard to score goals. A lot of goals are just from going to the net hard and being in there, hanging in there and taking a whack, and banging away at the puck.”
– On if Jonathan Quick gets frustrated with the Kings’ lack of production: “He really doesn’t. I actually talked with Quicker last year, (about) half way through the season – I grabbed him one day and, quite honestly, our conversation was exactly what you just asked me. I said ‘How are you doing?’ We were really struggling to score goals, we were losing 1-0 games, 2-1 games, and he was standing on his head. As you know, there’s times where it is frustrating – ‘C’mon guys, just score me two goals.’ – and we weren’t. He looked me in the eye and said, “You know what, I know I can only do what I can do. (They’ll look after) the other end.’ So, he was great about it. And if you look at the whole year last year, where we did struggle, there wasn’t one time where he got frustrated. He’s pretty special in that regard.”
– On Dean Lombardi having the confidence to let the teeam work themselves out of their early struggles: “It’s funny because Dean and I talked a couple days ago, and that’s one of the things we discussed. I’m big on, if your core is working for you, don’t change it. And I think if you looked at Chicago closely, when they won, and now – their core is virtually the same. If you look at Boston, when they won, and now – their core is virtually the same. Those two teams (are) certainly in the top five or so of contenders right now. So, I think you’ve got to be really careful making a decision short-term that might help you right now, but over the long haul isn’t going to help you. We’ve spent seven years putting this core together and putting this team together. To do something now with a core player, to make a big deal, just to shake us out of a bit of a doldrum that we’re in right now – over the long haul would not be the right move. Again, it’s something that we just discussed a couple days ago and the proof is in the pudding with Boston and Chicago.”
– On Keaton Ellerby’s performance thus far: “I’ve been out east, so I have seen some of our games. But, I think overall he has played with Drew Doughty. I think he’s playing a little higher in our lineup right now than he is as a player. But, I think overall he has done an amicable job for us. He’s played a decent amount of minutes for us, somewhere in the 19 (minute) range for a lot of games – and with Martinez, Greene and Mitchell out of our lineup, we needed somebody to pick it up. He’s certainly picked up some minutes for us.”
– On Drew Doughty’s performance: “He’s going to be fine. He’s a great player and he has gone through some ups and downs in his career, just like any other young player. I think with Drew, he played so well in the Olympics and then everybody thought, ‘Okay, here’s this young defenseman, who’s going to be the best defenseman in the league for the next 15 years.’ It’s really not fair to a young kid. He’s going to go through some growing pains and some ups and downs – clearly Drew has, and that’s reality. We don’t necessarily like it. We know Drew can play better than he has played thus far this year, but I’m not sure he has played quite as poorly as people think he has played either. I mean he plays a lot of minutes for us, he does some good things and there’s no question he’s going to get better and better this year.”
– On if Doughty puts too much pressure on himself: “I think he gets a little bit frustrated, because I do think he holds himself to a higher standard. Sometimes you just have to relax and play hard. It’s easier said than done. And I think that the more games, the more years that you get under your belt, the more it becomes apparent. But I think Drew does press sometimes, and gets a little bit frustrated with himself.”
– On if the whole Kings team is guilty of pressing too hard early on: “Yeah, we clearly were. I think there was an expectation from our group. You know the one thing I said a couple games in was, just because you won the Cup doesn’t mean you start the season out with 20 points. You’re essentially at the starting point again and it’s not easy. I think the mindset is hard, from playing in the Stanley Cup Final, where we all know what’s at stake, to a lockout year where all of a sudden you jump right into a regular season game, and the intensity level is not there. As a group, we’ve been slapped around a little bit now and I think we understand that we don’t have a lead anymore. We haven’t won the Stanley Cup. This is a new season and we gotta get going. I think it’s been reflected over our last three or four games. We’ve played much better. The game in Detroit we played extremely well, and St. Louis we played extremely well. Last night in Edmonton we played extremely well in the second and third period. So, hopefully it’s a sign of things to come. We’re kinda coming out of our little lull here.”
– On where things stand with Dustin Penner: “He has played better the last couple games. Pens is one of those guys – he doesn’t have a lot of rope. He’s got to play hard, and he gets judged on a shift-to-shift and a game-to-game basis because of his inconsistencies. And that’s pretty much where it’s at. I think the last couple games he has played better, but he needs to gain some consistency. He has been around long enough now where he needs to be a better player for us than he has been over the course of the year.”
– On if Penner’s weight has been an issue this season: “No, I think his weight is fairly in-line. I think with Pens it’s just a focus and consistency thing where he has just got to bring it. He’s a big power forward, we all know he’s a strong guy, and when he’s taking the puck to the net and planting himself in front of the net right around the crease there, he’s a darn good player. He’s very hard to contain and that’s the way he has got to do it.”
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I love three different perspective. Thanks for digging it out.
Boy, Quick is just a class act all around. The team is really lucky to have a guy like him. He takes fault for not keeping goals out when they lose and doesn’t take the credit when they win. And he brushes off any notion that it bothers him when his team doesn’t score. Can’t get much classier than that.