Clifford Shares Some Thoughts on AHL Conditioning Assignment

Kyle Clifford photo by KlausBurkhart.comA few weeks ago, AHL President and CEO Dave Andrews sat down with MayorsManor to discuss a myriad of league topics. Among the information shared was the fact the San Diego Gulls, the Anaheim Ducks new AHL affiliate, was exceeding expectations at the box office. Sitting second in league attendance, with an average of 8.658 per game, Gulls fans took it to a new level on Friday night.

We’re not sure if they were there for the $2 beer or for Kyle Clifford’s debut with the Ontario Reign, but it was a fun night regardless. Even Jeff Schultz was acting a little crazy.

Following another shutout by Peter Budaj, we caught up with Clifford to get his take on a few things…

Clifford’s evaluation of his first game played in more than a month:

“It was good. The team played well. Personally, a little bit of a slow start but I think as the game went on, I started feeling better. Got back into my rhythm and just getting back into the system stuff and thinking. It was good to see Buds get the shutout. I think overall, the team played really well.”

On when he found out about the AHL assignment:

“We discussed it on Tuesday. We discussed it and we just worked out what is best for both us and the Kings. Looking back now, I think it was a great idea. They brought it to me and it was just something we worked out and discussed. I definitely think it’s going to benefit me going forward, and just having the timing… It’s an injury where you don’t get a lot of time to work out and skate, so it was good to get out there and play again. They have a great group of guys down here and a great coaching staff, so it’s good just to be back in that type of atmosphere, and obviously it was great to win.”

On the plan going forward:

“I don’t make the lineup, I just go play and do what I’m told. I’ll rejoin the Kings on Monday and we’ll go from there.”

On if joining the Reign stirred any memories from his time with ECHL Ontario back in 2012:

“During the lockout, it was fun to be down there. They also had a great group of guys and they were welcoming during the lockout. I enjoyed my time down there and it was great to come and see a few of the same faces that I saw from before who are still here. It was good. The team is great, they were welcoming. They work hard and have a lot of talented players here. It’s good to come down here and see what’s going on. Personally, for me, it’s good to come and play some minutes and work on my game.”

On what questions some of the AHL guys have been asking him:

“There are a couple of guys that have played in the NHL. You can hear them asking them questions also. When they ask me questions, they really just want to know about the Cup experience and those types of things. They always ask about the big boys – ‘What’s Kopi like? And Doughty and Quickie?’ The answer is always the same – ‘Great guys, great players, great leaders.’ ”

Bonus quotes…

Coach Mike Stothers on Clifford joining the team for a two-game conditioning assignment:

“I thought he was real good. I thought he was strong. He’s an NHL veteran. He’s been out for quite a while; he played a smart, simple game. He didn’t overextend his shifts. He played the way Cliffy plays. He’s pretty hard-nosed, he wins battles, he made some plays for us, he was strong on the puck, and he was reliable. I thought it was a good start for him… The fact we have Cliffy here is great for all us. He’s a great guy and a great teammate. We’ve welcomed him with open arms and we’ll be ready to show him the door when it’s time for him to leave.”

Stothers on what it says about guys like Adrian Kempe coming to Staples Center on their day off to watch the Kings play:

“We encourage our guys to watch the NHL games, whether it’s live or on TV. You can learn an awful lot by watching NHL players play. We try to stress to our guys — say, like Kempe – watch the ice when he’s on the bench, watch an opposition player, watch a guy like Mike Mersch. Kempe is a left winger, Mersch is a left winger; watch him, see what he does. Learn from that. It’s valuable for all of us.”

FULL GAME STORY:

Clifford Returns, Reign Roll Over Gulls in San Diego

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John Hoven is a member of the of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and co-hosts Kings of the Podcast. He is also the founder and editor of MayorsManor.com, which has been named Best Sports Blog in Los Angeles by LA Weekly and Hockey Blog of the Year by Yahoo Sports. Click "ABOUT OUR TEAM" above for a full bio.