Sometimes in life there are trade offs – or opportunity costs, if you will.
Jake Muzzin could be playing in the AHL right now, as he had been for the past two years. There, he’d be surrounded by friends and teammates, where most of the guys also live in the same Manchester area condo complex. It was a comfortable environment and he saw a lot of the same faces, both at the rink and away from it.
But, Los Angeles is a different story.
“I’m lonely,” Muzzin recently told MayorsManor.
Still a rookie and not sure if he’s staying or going, the 24-year-old is living in a hotel.
“Ellerby got his own place recently, Soup (Andrew Campbell) got sent down,” Muzzin said a few days ago. “Now it’s just me and the staff working there. I’m actually pretty good buddy’s with one guy. He’s kind of the handyman there; he cuts the grass and fixes any problems with the rooms, like plumbing and stuff like that.”
So, you guys are friends now?
“Yeah, I’ve been there long enough, throughout the last couple years. I see him all the time, he’s a pretty good guy. I give him a little bro handshake when I see him, a little, ‘How was your day?’ and a some small talk.”
Hopefully, the guy still recognizes Muzzin following some alterations he’s made to his appearance.
After telling us last month that he liked wearing a beard because it made him look mean and masked his generally nice nature, plans changed.
“I looked in the mirror and I kind of looked a little Amish, like a Mennonite. So I got rid of it,” Muzzin explained. “But, it’s coming back. It’s on its’ way back now, actually.”
He also has a new plan for his facial rug.
“I might purchase a little grooming tool with some adjustments on it so I can keep it tight.”
Well, if he really wants to look mean, why not a handlebar mustache or something similar?
“I actually did trim that in, Soupy made me do it,” Muzzin said with a laugh. “Then he told me, ‘You gotta keep it, you gotta keep it!’ That’s easy for him to say, it’s not on his face. I looked like an idiot.”
On the ice, he’s looking like anything but a total tool of late. With eight points in his last eight games, the offense is starting to come around. Ranked as the third best prospect in the Kings organization – and top defenseman – Muzzin has long been known for having a great shot. Now, his confidence is catching up.
“I feel good,” he said. “I’m working hard, getting better, listening to coaches.”
Just don’t expect the offensive numbers to distract him from other parts of his game.
“You have to continue working and playing defense first. Scoring a goal is great, helping the team win, but I’m a defender and I have to defend first. So, that’s the main goal – to keep the puck out of the back of the net.”
He’s also been spending time with Drew Doughty and that’s also making a difference in his game.
“You get to see a little, feel a little, tendencies that he does and he feels the tendencies that I tend to do. Little stuff like that is helping. I’ve started to read off him a little more. I kind of know where he’s going to be, or what he’s going to do.”
Getting help is what it’s all about when you’re a rookie trying to secure your spot in the NHL. Let the coaches help you off the ice, your partner help you on the ice…and, apparently, let your maintenance ‘bro’ help you at the hotel.
“He did hook up my Xbox a couple of summers ago,” remarked Muzzin. “The internet at the hotel is a little different than your regular WiFi, so he jimmied it up and we got our Xbox Live going in the hotel. I’m buddies with the guys at the front desk too. They hook me up, as well. They’re good guys out there. Frederick is my guy at the desk.”
Even after all the help he’s been getting – and knowing how lonely he’s been at the hotel – Muzzin didn’t even offer to pick up Tyler Toffoli when he landed at LAX late Sunday night.
“That’s not my job,” the always smiling defenseman deadpanned. “I drove him to the rink this morning. So that’s it.”
Maybe Toffoli will have to remember that the next time Muzzin invites him over for a little late night Call of Duty.
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Greg Carson says
Jake, we missed you last night at the Monarchs “At Your Service Dinner.” Not as wide as most years because it was a work night, but some if the news guys seem to be following in your footsteps if you recall…or was that dance steps?