Thoughts from Kings coach Todd McLellan on Monday, January 4
On if any young players have impressed him thus far
Well they all have in their own way. Everybody’s at a different place. So when you think of youth, you think of Tyler Madden for example, showing up for his first time in a training camp, it’s a lot to take in right away. He’s in a good spot then you talk about youth. I still consider Blake Lizotte a young player, but he’s way further along the line and he’s in a different spot than Tyler would be. He has some experience and he’s able to pick the concepts up quick and and put them into play. But everything in between, as long as we have each individual prospect moving in the proper direction on that curve, if you will, then we’re in a good spot. As far as individuals catching our eye, it’s more the group as a whole. Four days isn’t a lot yet, so we’ll need a little more time.
On how social distancing and other protocols will change their usual routines
I don’t and I’ll tell you why – because our routine here at our practice facility hasn’t changed much, even though training camp has started. We have become accustomed to testing, social distancing, masks, we know where we can or can’t go. Nothing has been out of the ordinary, if you consider the ordinary the past few months. I think where it’s gonna change dramatically is once we begin to travel — and travel can be heading to the Staples Center or on a road trip, and we’re slowly preparing for that — we’re getting more and more information about how we need to do things, what we require to get into buildings, where we need to enter, what buses and planes are gonna look like, that type of stuff. The other thing that we’re forgetting about is the environment that we’re gonna play in – no fans, unfortunately. So quite buildings and the lack of energy that our home fans provide us at the Staples Center, we’re gonna have to adjust to that, as well.
On if he has any clarity on the timing of their prospects at the World Juniors eventually joining camp
Not yet. I know that Rob Blake and his stuff are working on that… The the process of getting them here and getting them into our building will be – in regards to testing and quarantining and that type of stuff – it’s something that I don’t have my hands on. That’s a management thing and I know they’re working really hard on it.
Plan is for LA Kings prospects at the World Juniors — Björnfot, Kaliyev, Turcotte, Byfield — to fly to LA on Wednesday.
Team is still waiting on official word re: what protocols will be required before they join camp.
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On the taxi squad, comparted to having players playing in the AHL
Playing and minutes and experiences are really important for young players. It’s something we’re taking into consideration when we talk about our 23-man roster and then that four to six man taxi squad. We’re not exactly sure yet how we’re gonna use it. We’ll wait and see how some of these young players from the World Junior tournament look and then we’ll make decisions as we go. We’re hoping that we don’t have to tap the taxi squad for any games. I don’t mean that because we don’t want those players playing. I mean that because it means we’re relatively healthy and we’re having success as a team. As far as who will be on it, and how we will rotate players in and out, that hasn’t been decided yet.
On Sean Durzi:
I go back to last year, from training camp last year to this point, he still has great vision, he makes great passing plays, he finds people in quiet ice, where some other players maybe don’t find them. But what’s been more impressive is the work that he’s done over the summer. His conditioning, his strength, his skating has improved. He feels more comfortable and confident here at camp. That shows as much as as his skill set does, so it’s been a night it’s been nice to see him have success in four days.
On Lias Andersson
Fresh start. When you’ve gone through what he’s gone through, for whatever reason, I think he understands that the lifelines a little bit shorter as you go through organizations. So he’s hungry, he’s ready, he’s in good condition, he’s been willing to learn and adapt. His tenacity is the biggest thing that I’ve noticed, though. When the scrimmages are on, he’s around the puck, he’s got a little nastiness to him, he digs in and and comes up with a lot of pucks and battles, and goes to the paint. He has fit our team well to this point. I think he’ll get more and more comfortable as days go on. We hope that we’ve found a player, for our sake and certainly for his sake, as well.
On Mikey Anderson
Well like any player he still has a lot to work on and a lot to polish up. But, as a young player, he positionally was really sound, he anticipated plays well in games, he wasn’t intimidated by playing in certain situations or buildings, and his teammates around him appreciated him as a player. They really found a way to make it work with him and then we’ve seen that carry over here into into training camp. As he moves forward, we expect him to be part of our team. We haven’t anointed any positions yet, but certainly he has a foot in the door. He has played well throughout the first four days of camp and we think that he’ll have a good long career with us.
On Mikey Anderson’s leadership potential
He’s mature beyond his years. That’s him, you can tell he was a college player. He’s been around men for a little while, he carries himself very professionally around the rink, on the ice and off of it. He fits our group well and as we move forward, who knows where that will take him as far as the leadership group with the team. Right now, he’s just trying to break into the league as a full-time player. We’re not going to put any added pressure on him for any of those other intangibles.
On if there have been any bumps and bruises, any injuries, through the first four days of camp
No, for the most part everybody seems to be generally healthy. There’s always sore muscles and tightness and stuff like that after four days of competition. Nothing that puts us in a real bad situation. We think right now, if we had to play Game 1, we’d have basically everybody available.
On the possibility of Jeff Carter playing a third line role this season, getting less than 17 minutes per game
I haven’t talked to him about that because I don’t think that’s gonna happen. I don’t anticipate cutting him back. I think that he’ll play… he dictates how many minutes he gets, as all players do. I see him penalty killing, I see him on the power play, and I see him in a regular line situation. So, in my mind, there’s no need to talk to him about it.
On Joe Thornton playing with Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews in Toronto
I think it’s great. It’s great for those two kids to have Jumbo on their line. He’s such a good player. He’s gonna be so good for those young players and he’s gonna drive them. He’ll make those two better as overall players. Jumbo will have fun doing it, they’ll enjoy having him there. I’m really happy for Jumbo. As much as everybody else would have liked to have seen him retire as a Shark, I’m happy that he’s at home. I know his mom and dad don’t miss a game and they’ll be at or watching every single one. That’s exciting for him to go there.
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