Monarchs coach singing the praises of Kings top prospects

On Wednesday afternoon, Manchester Monarchs coach Mark Morris was a guest on NHL Network Radio with host Scott Laughlin. During the course of the conversation, Morris had plenty to say about the Kings top prospects, both the players currently with the big club and several of the stars-in-waiting down in the AHL. Here’s a transcript of the interview…

On how well his club has started off this season:

“Oh, it’s been a lot of fun. Most of those guys that got us headed in the right direction are all with the Kings now, but the guys [here] have followed suit since. They set the bar, and it’s been great. Everybody else is stepping up now.”

On where Martin Jones’ game is right now and how he might be able to help the Kings:

“I’m a great believer in Martin Jones. I think that, much like his predecessors in Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier, he’s a very competent goalie. I really like his game. He stays square, he plays a real patient game, he’s big. He’s played exceptional for us, not only this year, but in years past. He’s been in the driver’s seat for us most of the first part of the year. It’s a big reason why we’re up near the top of the standings.”

On Jonathan Bernier’s time in Manchester:

“Bernie was real solid for us. I had both he and Quick, and it came right down to a situation where Ron Hextall had called me at the time and said “Which guy is playing better right now?” It was pretty much a toss-up and I said “Well, Quickie played the last game.” He (Quick) got the call. From that point forward, Jonathan Bernier got the bulk of the playing time for us here in Manchester and he did an outstanding job. He may not be as big Jones, height wise, but they play a similar style. Very calm. There’s not a whole lot of panic in the game. I just watched him here on TV not too long ago and he’s the same guy that we saw here at the American League level and better.”

On his team’s strong goaltending and commitment to team defense lending to them being near the top of the standings:

“JF Berube has been holding down the fort for us since Jonesy has been up with the Kings and he’s done a fine job for us. It helps to have Jeff Schultz on the back end. He’s done a good job with Andrew Campbell. We have a couple of other guys: Andrew Bodnardchuk, he’s been good for us. Vinny LoVerde. We’ve got [Derek] Forbort back there, a kid out of North Dakota, he’s been real good, too. They’ve stabilized some things. In the absence of our three big guns, Pearson, Vey and Toffoli, that are up with the Kings, Andy Andreoff has stepped up. Jordan Weal, Brandon Kozun. We’ve got Nick Deslauriers, who moved up from the defensive position, he’s become a really proficient winger for us. Beyond that, everybody’s been picking up the slack.”

On past critics of Toffoli’s skating ability:

“I think it’s a bit of a misnomer. You look at him and he may not have the smoothest stride, but I tell you, he gets there. His positioning and his stick strength are two of the things that really help him to be as productive as a scorer. He’s a great compliment to who he plays with. I think that’s a great quality that he has, that no matter who he gets to play with, he makes them better.”

On Tanner Pearson and how he slipped through the cracks, going undrafted twice before the Kings nabbed him in 2012:

“I didn’t know much about him until I laid eyes on him here. We gave him some ice at the start, but not as much as he was used to. Steadily, he got better and better. His north/south speed and his shot are exceptional. He showed flashes early on that he had a burst and he makes that move where you come to the inside and then push the puck to the outside. It’s a unique quality and if you can do that, you can burn a lot of guys. He showed that playing with Vey and Toffoli. He’s gotten better and better and he’s a big reason why we were in such a good spot early on in this season.”

On Linden Vey and the strides he’s made as a fourth round pick from 2009:

“I guess the way that I’ve described to Dean is that he’s kind of the swizzle stick that stirs the drink. He’s the playmaker. Again, a strong stick and very creative. His defensive game has improved immensely. I see where last night he got an assist on Dwight King’s goal and they had him out there killing penalties at the NHL level. We just gave him those duties recently and he’s really embraced it. It’s great to see that he’s becoming a 200 foot player now.”

On working with Rob Blake and what it’s been like to have him around:

“He’s been awesome. I’ve asked him to come on the ice and he likes to do it! I think having those guys around, and his communication skills are just exceptional. He’s easy to talk to. He’s very complimentary. I think the thing about Blakey is that he’s got so much credibility. He’s just one of those guys that his presence is something that you have to take notice of. He’s a big man. I think that this time is a learning experience for him, but at the same time, it’s been neat to see him as he learns the ropes.”

On how his time at Clarkson University helped prepare him for what he’s been able to achieve in Manchester:

[ed. note: Morris recently became the first coach in history to achieve 300 wins at both the college and pro level]

“Well, you know what, I think that a lot of times we all learn by experience. I spent a lot of time up and down the 401 all the way through Quebec to Detroit trying to recruit players. I got to know a lot of the hockey world. I was also fortunate to land quite a few key guys. My assistants did a great job and we were on the road together quite a bit to identify talent and we were fortunate to have some great ones. The Willie Mitchells of the world came to Clarkson and the Erik Coles and Todd Marchant and Todd White and Chris Clark and Craig Conroy. I mean, we had a boat. Those guys were the guys that really helped us get it done throughout the 90’s and it was a fun time. You learned so much, and a lot of times through not only the good times, but also the bad times. I think that our message was that we were going to own our own backyard. Good players make for good coaches.”

To read more about Morris’ thoughts on Tanner Pearson and his evolution into a top flight prospects, click here to read last week’s feature piece I prepared for


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  1. Mark in Boston says:

    Great Article Mr. Mayor. Love your tweets too, you are the go-to guy for Kings info.

    Amazing what Morris has now seen as far as the foundation that is the Los Angeles Kings. Bernier/Quick….the Manchester alums all on the ice for the game winner the other night in NY…etc.

    Question to ask Blake next time: Why has he not worked on-ice with Drew Doughty yet?? (Drew said on HNIC After Hours 2 weeks ago he wants to work with him but has not yet…hard to imagine!)