John Stevens on Carter, Brodzinski, and Etem

Select quotes from coach John Stevens after opening day of LA Kings Training Camp:

On how much time off he had this summer:

“We were pretty busy right up to the end of development camp. After development camp I spent a couple weeks with my family, they come over the Fourth of July. It sounds crazy, but I think when you’re coaching you don’t ever really get away from it. There’s lots of follow up with the players. We did lots of research in the summer. You start looking at video of your team and other teams. All the coaches have layers of responsibility to prepare for, so that kind of stretches over the course of the summer. I still get a lot of time at home with my family and work for parts of the day. There was probably only a week or two that you didn’t dive into the hockey part of it somehow. I didn’t travel as much this year because we’ve been to visit our guys and knew what their situation was. I went up to see Dion [Phaneuf] and went to see Tanner Pearson. There was lots of follow up with players on how they’re making out in the summer and where they’re getting what they needed and there is a lot of preparation work for this year. It’s a good time to get away and get energized but, I know for me personally, it’s difficult to get totally away from it. Quite honestly, I enjoy that part of it anyway. I think I spend time with my family and get an opportunity to be a student of the game and that’s something I really enjoy.”

On why he went to visit Dion Phaneuf and Tanner Pearson over the summer:

“Dion, just because I’d never been to see him. He was new to our team at the end of the year and I wanted to see where he spent the summer and what resources he had around him there. There’s a guy that trains him there that is very passionate about what he’s doing. Matt Price [from out strength and conditioning staff] met us out there just so we could get a chance to meet him and go through the routine because it’s a little bit different. We made sure he had everything he needed and it’s a good opportunity to meet Dion’s wife and family. I think it’s always good for me to see players in their home setting. You get a real appreciation for their foundation and their values. For me, the trip was great, he has a wonderful family. You can see why he loves going back there. It’s not just his own immediate family, but aunts and uncles live all around there. He has a great setup there. He has a guy that trains him that’s terrific. So, in that case, it was a little more familiarity and trying to solidify a strong relationship with a player that’s new. Tanner didn’t get back here much this summer and I had never met his trainer. I was home visiting my family, so I wanted to shoot up and have breakfast with him and his trainer just to meet his trainer. I wanted to check in and see how his summer was going and if he was on track or needed anything from us.”

On Emerson Etem, who is in camp on a PTO:

“I actually got to see him quite a bit, he skated in the summer here. I’m a little bit familiar with him, he has really good speed. For a big guy he skates really well. His hands seem to keep up with his feet so we’re anxious to get a look at him. We’re obviously familiar with him because he played against us in the division. He’s been a pro for a period of time now but this is a really good opportunity for him to come in and show what he can do and for us to get a look at him. I like his size I like his speed that he brings and he seems to be a pretty fit guy and we’re excited to see what he can do.”

On Jeff Carter’s status:

“Jeff looks pretty good. I think he made a lot of progress over the course of the summer, particularly at the end of the summer. I think with his increased activity off the ice, with his training, he is able to work through some of the issues with his leg because he’s not just skating. He’s doing all this training to get ready for the season, but I think he made good progress, in terms of being back to a state of normalcy with his leg. I don’t think it’ll ever be like it was, but I think he put in a lot of work in the summer and made big strides to getting closer back to where he was – more explosive off the wall and didn’t have as much irritation around the joint that he had before. I think he’s a lot further along now then when he came back last year. That type of injury is different. Now there is scarring in there and he has a scar he has to deal with. Some other injuries, with broken bones, I don’t think you ever feel like you’re totally perfectly healthy. It might not feel exactly perfect, but he still is a high level player. I think the big thing with Jeff is, he’s always had great acceleration out of the hole and he’s always had an extra gear that allows him to get some separation. That puts him in situations he can really take advantage of. I think we’re starting to see that type of explosiveness in his game again that was probably missing when he came back.”

On Pearson playing with Carter this season:

“Tanner is a pretty important guy on our team. He had 14 or 15 goals last year and had 24 the year before, he’s proven that he can score in a primary scoring role. Even last year, he was on the ice for more ‘goals for’ than he was the year before. He was one of those guys last year that did a lot of the dirty work that didn’t show up in the point column, but I think he made progress in his game. Having said that, I think he can produce more for us. We like Tanner Pearson and what he brings to our team. We have big expectations of Tanner taking a lot of responsibility and really solidifying the top-six of our hockey team.”

On this year’s offensive style compared to last year:

“There are some things we’re trying to add to what we’re doing. We’re really happy with some of the areas of our game last year. We increased our scoring off the rush in a big way last year. We increased our scoring when trying to get off the walls and into the middle of the ice. I think adding Jeff Carter back to the lineup for a whole year — and we scored on the rush with Jeff out of the lineup all year — you add Kovalchuk to your lineup, who has been a leading scorer and you have a weapon you never had before. You also get some young guys with experience under their belt in Kempe and Iafallo; we think we can continue to trend up, in terms of creating more offense outside the Kopitar line. There are somethings we are looking at where there are areas of the ice we can take better advantage of. I don’t know if we want to do anything different, but we want to do a lot of things better.”

On the idea of Jonny Brodzinski playing Adrian Kempe’s right wing:

“With Jonny it’s a couple things. With any young player, I think you’re looking at a consistency issue. You want to be able to put a guy in the lineup and you know exactly what you’re getting on a nightly basis. You don’t want to see him drop off with his play. Number one, he has to be responsible, he’s going to be good on the wall. That’s going to allow him to get out of his zone and spend time in the zone he wants to play in. Jonny has a high end shot. He can shoot the puck better than most people and he has a quick release. He worked really hard this summer to get lighter. We asked him to get lighter because he’s carrying 217 [pounds] on that frame, which we thought was a little bit too heavy. To his credit, he worked really hard and got his weight down. We think he’s stronger quicker and more powerful at the lighter weight than he was before. We’re hoping those things will allow him to bring some consistency and bring some scoring. We think Jonny can be a responsible player and provide secondary offense for our team. He had opportunities last year that, for whatever reason, he didn’t capitalize on them. He started there on the Kopitar line for a little bit. Then he played a stretch there where he had opportunity and didn’t finish. He has shown the ability to score goals that other people can’t. I think if we can see Jonny show up every night and be a consistent player, and defensively responsible and start capitalizing on his offensive opportunities where he is contributing offensively, I think the coaches would find it pretty easy to put him in the lineup.”

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