Jeff Schultz on meeting Sutter and why he signed in LA


Over the past few days we’ve checked in with Willie Mitchell, Alec Martinez and Andrew Bodnarchuk – three players trying to find their way into the Kings’ opening night line-up. It’s almost like a game of musical chairs though, as there are more defensemen in camp than spots available.

Among the many blueliners trying to get noticed is 6-foot-6 Jeff Schultz, who was signed to a one-year contract back in July. Originally thought to be a good hedge against Mitchell’s knee not being fully recovered, Schultz is more than feeling the squeeze of a tight numbers game at the moment. While there’s still time to earn a spot, coach Darryl Sutter was emphatic over the weekend when stating that he wants to give players like Schultz every opportunity to make his case before the team’s final roster is submitted a few days after Frozen Fury weekend.

Sure, he’s a former first round pick, who’s played nearly 400 games in the NHL and posted a remarkable plus-50 rating in 2009-10 (something practically unheard of) .  Does he bring enough to the table though to claim a job otherwise held by somebody like Keaton Ellerby?

Follow the afternoon session at camp on Wednesday, Schultz spent time answering a few questions for MayorsManor…

On what was attractive to him about signing with Los Angeles:

“It was one of the offers that I did have and I thought it was the best opportunity for me to come in and try and help the team. For a team that has won it in the recent years, I felt like I could come in and learn a lot and then see from the guys what it takes to win a championship…Just watching them in the past few years, how well they’ve done in the playoffs and winning it, they have that drive and the will to win. They pay the price and they know what it takes.”

On his mindset considering the abundance of defensemen at camp:

“That’s part of the game. There’s not much I can really do. It’s just a matter of going out and playing my best each game. It’s for the front office staff to decide on. I don’t know what happens with other guys, but it’s always good in camp. Competition makes you play your best and each game, each guy’s getting better.”

On whether Darryl Sutter’s affinity for big guys gives him a leg up:

“Yeah, maybe. I met Darryl a long time ago, before I was drafted when he was in Calgary, so we went from there. If that’s what he likes, then that’s a plus for me. But what happens on the ice and what I do out there hopefully shows them that I would like to stay here.”

On his first meeting with Sutter back then:

“It was almost ten years ago. I was playing junior there and he called me in just before the draft to get to know me. They like to pick your brain about what’s going on, what you like to do and stuff like that. I remember it being a pretty short meeting and there was no indication on whether I’d get drafted to Calgary or not. It’s get to know you, get to see what you’re like in person.”

On how many farming questions Sutter asked him:

[Laughter] “None. I grew up in the city so there was not much in common there between Darryl and me.”

On if Sutter required him to do any ranching over the summer before signing:

“No ranching. Nope. I grew up in the city and when it comes to farming or horses or stuff like that, I have no idea.”

On one or two guys who have helped him assimilate:

“Everyone’s been good. Everyone’s been there to help with any questions I’ve had, whether it’s systems or what to do in drills on the ice. Matt Greene’s been there the most. If I have any questions, he helps me out each and every day. I think it’s a good mix of older guys and younger guys and I think that’s what keeps them a tight knit group.”

On Tuesday’s game in Anaheim:

“It was a good game. Each game we’ve been getting better. Systems-wise, everyone’s starting to get it a little bit more.”

On if playing in Washington was made any easier with most of the attention focused on Alex Ovechkin:

“Not really. They have a great fan base and the rinks were always loud. With a player like Ovy…he’s a good spark for the team. He does so much to help that team. He kind of drives the team, but there are other secondary players that help that team as well.”

On what went wrong for him in Washington:

“There are a couple different things. A couple coaching changes and the new systems they brought in. They like certain kinds of players and certain types of styles and I didn’t suit the way they wanted guys to play. It’s not one or two exact things that happened.”

On if the Kings have given him a nickname yet:

“Nothing yet. No. Just Schultzy.”

On what his best nickname has been:

“Last year, it was Big Rig, being a big guy.”

On who’s better, Drew Doughty or Matt Greene:

[Laughter] “No comment.”

RELATED CONTENT:

Checking in with Willie Mitchell and his partially tested knee

Alec Martinez – ready to turn the page, move on from adversity

With deck stacked on D, Bodnarchuk could be the Kings’ wild card

Kings camp, Day 1 – checking in with the new guys and Muzzin

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