In an off-season of promised change, the LA Kings have already made several announcements supporting their claims. From a new General Manager to a new head coach, the organization is under a bit of a remodel at the moment. One thing remaining constant, though, is the team’s commitment to developing young players. For more than a decade, they have quietly gone about signing undrafted junior players and/or college free agents. And on the latter front, significant movement has taken place in just the past few weeks. After already inking forward Alex Iafallo to an Entry Level Contract, management has now set sights on several more from the NCAA ranks, including Spencer Foo.
A 6-foot forward, capable of playing center and right wing, Foo recently announced his intentions to leave school early and begin his professional career. A native of Edmonton, he has been in New York the past three years, honing his craft at Union – where he is coming off of a breakout junior season, posting a 21-game point streak and notching at least one point in 34 of 38 games played. The 22-year-old also placed top five in the nation for points (62), goals (26), assists (36), multi-point games (20), and plus-minus (+29). Then he added a bevy of post-season accolades to his resume, such as: 2016-17 All-ECAC Hockey First Team selection, finalist for the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and being named a Hobey Baker Memorial Award top-10 finalist.
With his future still yet to be determined – and interest ramping up from the Kings, Flyers, Oilers, and others — we caught up with Foo to get a better understanding of who he is and the decision process in front of him. Below are a series of quotes from our extended conversation.
Foo on what lead to his decision to leave Union, foregoing his senior year (where he could have played with his brother, who is an incoming freshman):
“There were a lot of factors and it was a very difficult decision to make. As the season ended, I went through some pros and cons of both paths I could take. It just seemed like after the season I had this year, that it was just the best decision to make for me. My brother is coming into Union College next year, and that was a big factor. It’s hard to leave teammates that you’ve formed such close bonds with; but at the end of the day, you come to college to make yourself a hockey career, [even though there is] a back-up plan there for you. In the end, it’s my dream to go and play hockey and that’s what just what I wanted to do.”
On discussions he had with his brother, on staying versus leaving:
“Obviously, we were both looking forward to it. It’s something that we’ve never really been able to do because of the age difference. Ultimately, we just said that it’s best for me, and he agrees that it’s best for me. It would be pretty cool if I was able to crack the NHL in the next little while here. It was still tough to talk about that, but we kind of ended up saying, hopefully he’s able to come in and play well too and maybe we’ll play pro together some year.”
On who was the first person (or people) that he told, once he decided to come out early:
“Probably my parents. It was a little bit hard, but my family is very supportive and they just want the best for me. I think it was tough for my mom; she just has a lot of emotions flying around about what’s best for me. Like any other mom, she just wants the best for her son. She was a little bit emotional about it, but in the end, they agree with my decision and just thought whatever I’m going to do is going to be the right decision for me and we just left it at that.”
On anything of substance that stuck with him during his final decision:
“You know, the one thing that kind of made it an easier decision, is just realizing the fact that I’m a hockey player. It’s always been my dream to play in the NHL. You can think about all these different factors, but I just kind of thought, ‘What did I come to college for, why do I want this so bad?’ It’s because I’ve done everything in my life to get to this point of getting an opportunity to sign with a team and hopefully play with them. I mean education; I’ll have the three years that I did here forever and hopefully I will try to finish. I just basically figured, this is what I came to New York to do was to play hockey and further my career. It’s led me to this awesome opportunity that I have right now and I’m going to try to just keep chasing my dream, I guess.”
On where he’s at in the process right now, of selecting an NHL team to sign with:
“Right now, I’m taking my time and nothing has changed. I know there have been a few rumors out there about how I was going to sign this past weekend because I was back home [in Edmonton] and that meant something. Ultimately my plan is still the same; I’m waiting until the summer time, until I’m back home. I’m just taking my time with it, there’s really no point in me signing right now. What’s that going to do for me? I’m not going to hop into any NHL or AHL playoffs games right now, so we just decided it was best for me to wait until the summer and finish this last term of school. Then, we’ll see how some pieces fall into place over this summer with different teams and just find the best opportunity.”
On providing some clarity regarding the timing of how things will play out:
“Our school semester runs through the start of June. Then, I’ll be home within the first couple weeks of June and then I’ll probably start to figure things out before making a decision near the end of June.”
On what type of factors will be important when selecting an NHL team:
“Instead of wanting to jump in right away — obviously I do want to make an opening lineup and play right away as much as I can – but, I’m more of a long-term kind of thinker. I don’t want to go in and just have a cup of coffee in the NHL. I want to try and make a career out of it I’m going to do whatever I can to achieve that. I’m looking at opportunity right now, but I think the biggest thing for me is what’s going to be the biggest fit over the long-term for me. How am I going to develop on certain teams? What type of guys am I going to be playing with? Those are the biggest things for me; I want to treat it as a long-term thing. If I end up signing with a team and they don’t think I’m ready at the start of next year, then I’ll go pay my dues, as long as I’m trying to work towards a career and not just getting to a first game. So, I want to do what’s best for me long-term.”
On the pros and cons of being an Edmonton native when considering playing there:
“There are obviously positives in the sense that all my friends and family are in Edmonton. On the other side of things, there is a bit of distraction with all the pressure. At the end of the day, that is not really the most important thing. I’m going there to do a job and play hockey where that may a bit of a factor it’s not the deciding factor for me.”
On weighing interests from different teams and balancing the timing or level of interest they show:
“I guess it is a little difficult to weigh those things; it really is a business right now. I have to do what’s best for my career, but I think having the interest of teams shows how bad they want you. How wanted you are in an organization is obviously a big thing once you get in there. Although right now everything is in my hands, as soon as I sign with a team I do whatever they say. Obviously I want to sign with a team where I feel really wanted, and I feel like I fit into the organization. There might be a couple of teams that don’t see me that way; they’re just trying to sell me on whatever they have – sort of sell me so that I sign there, but maybe I don’t really fit into that organization. So there’s definitely a balance between those two things, but I’d say it’s probably a little bit more of a business approach than [it was when I was selecting a] college.”
On if there is a set list of teams that he is talking to:
“Not really, I wouldn’t say so. There’s interest here and there right now, but really I am waiting to get home. I’m just taking my time right now and picking the pros and cons of every team I talk to. We’re trying to narrow it down a little bit right now, but not to a full extent that I will try to do when I get back home.”
On if the unknown of team’s rosters today versus closer to what it might look like July 1st plays a factor in not signing today:
“That’s also a big factor. Obviously it’s a unique year with the Expansion Draft too and that is going to provide some openings that aren’t there right now. That was one of the reasons we decided to wait, as well.”
On the value of an NHL team having college alumni in key hockey positions (i.e. General Manager, scouts, etc.):
“I think it definitely helps a little bit. It helps to understand what kind of position I’m in, and what I’ve gone through. Everything is just really another piece of the puzzle that’s going to come down to the list of pros and cons at the end. Obviously, that does help a little bit; but, again, it’s not a deciding factor.”
On how the recruiting process will actually work:
“We haven’t really figured that out yet. We haven’t completely decided, but I think before I end up signing with a team I’d like to go visit some different places and see how it is. Similar to college I guess.”
On previous comments he’s made about wanting to visit South America (his father was born in Guyana); and if that is more of a bucket list item or a trip he’d like to take soon:
“That’s more of a bucket list thing [laughter]. Summers are short and these next summers are the biggest summers of my life. It’s about just getting better. So I’d say that’s more of a bucket list thing, for sure.”
On having some of his best success while wearing No. 15 and the fact that number would likely be available to him in Los Angeles:
“Yeah [laughter]. You never know. I haven’t really looked through numbers yet, but getting to wear No. 15 would definitely be a plus.”
For the record, Andy Andreoff currently wears No. 15 in Los Angeles. In the past it has been worn by Brad Richardson, Jozef Stumpel, Pat Conacher, Daryl Evans, and Ted Irvine, among others.
Will Foo be next? We’ll have to wait at least another couple of months to find out.
— The Mayor John Hoven (@mayorNHL) April 25, 2017
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