Finally, the Kings first round selection from last year’s NHL Draft has arrived in Los Angeles. Well, technically, he’s been here since last Wednesday. However, after landing in SoCal following the World Junior Championship in Edmonton, Byfield had to quarantine for a few days before being cleared to join training camp this morning. Following his first on-ice activities ever in a Kings jersey, here’s what the young forward had to share:
So this just happened…
Practice opened with flow drill, rotating 3-players skating in on goal.
On B2B rushes, Doughty paired with Byfield (first rush) and then Kaliyev. In both instances, Byfield and Kaliyev finished the rush by scoring.
As you were.
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) January 11, 2021
On his overall thoughts of the first day of NHL practice
I think that was pretty exciting to be out there with all the guys and just to to get practice out of the way. It was quite a bit of fun and just exciting times, stepping out there for your first pro skate and just getting to know all the guys. The excitement level is pretty high today.
On if he’s even had time to try and build any kind of a relationship yet with Anze Kopitar
I think it was my first time meeting him, so it’s hard to build a long-lasting relationship already, but I know he definitely seems like a very nice guy. He was helping me out on the ice and a lot of the older guys were helping me on the ice and in the gym. Just kind of, you know, what they want to see and helping me on what to do. I guess it’s a start for the relationship. Definitely, something to build off of.
On having to quarantine again in LA after first going through something similar a month or so ago in Red Deer
I think having a PS4 helps you a lot. Going through it quite a bit gives you some downtime, some rest in between places you’re going and traveling. It’s not too bad, the days passed by quickly. Instead of just thinking of the next day, and thinking about when you get out, just joining the next team you’re with. The days go by pretty fast.
On if today matched his expectations
I think it was pretty high tempo and just getting to know all the guys for the first time, as well. There’s just a lot going on a lot to take in. You can’t really expect anything at this level. I guess everything went as planned, but just a lot more hard work. Good time to just be able to compete and kind of battle with those guys out there.
On flying back with Alex Turcotte and Arthur Kaliyev after Team USA beat Canada for the gold medal
I don’t think we talked on the plane. I didn’t talk to them until the next day afterward. I think we started talking then, got to know them. I was still pretty heated from the game and definitely not in the greatest mood, so I kind of slept and kept to my own. But they’re my teammates now, so I have to get to know them. I’ll just kind of push that aside almost.
On the story behind those berries he always seemed to be carrying around pregame at the WJC
I would order from Instacart, some fruits and stuff. Usually, I eat a pretty big meal before I go down to the rink. Usually, I get there like three hours early, so I like to eat something. I think berries, and stuff like that, fruits, they give you all the right amount of sugar, healthy sugars. I think it’s good for me.
On what he learned about himself during his time at the World Juniors
I think it kind of shows that I can play in a lot of different situations, just play up the lineup or at the bottom of the lineup. I kind of just have to find my game and play within the system the coach wants me to play. I think I’m pretty flexible to play wherever in the lineup. Playing the fourth, third line, for much of the tournament, I think that’s really something I figured out, as well.
On what he thought he was able to bring to the tournament this year
A little bit of growth in my game. Being a little bit more physical, throwing the body. Just playing without fans, it’s hard to get momentum going your way. Playing in Canada, I think that would have helped us quite a bit in the tournament. I know that’s definitely a little bit of a loss for us, but we just had to find momentum other ways. Making some big hits and blocking shots, making some good backchecks, definitely lifted the spirits on the bench and gets some momentum going your way. I tried my best to do those things and be a part of the team like that.
More on the PS4 time and what he was playing
I was playing Call of Duty quite a bit with the boys. Our search and destroy squad consists of me, Cousins, Byram, Suzuki, Gauthier, Spence, just a lot of boys like that, so we got after it quite a bit.
On how he packed, planning on being from home for so long
I brought quite a bit honestly. I remember from last year’s WJC, with Hockey Canada, you kind of just wear all Hockey Canada clothes. So I just brought a bunch of golf shirts and stuff like that. The first couple days I was just wearing Hockey Canada golf shirts and dress pants. My mom eventually sent me some clothes from home and I finally got that stuff.
On if was able to take part in any zoom meetings with the Kings coaches or players during the last week
Yeah, they got us to actually go over some video. Video of whenever they’re doing things in practice and stuff. We were able to take part in that, and kind of just watch what the coach wants us to do, Being able to be involved and that was pretty cool.
On how he’s preparing for the thought of possibly playing in the NHL, AHL, and/or OHL in the weeks ahead
Honestly, it’s pretty crazy. Everything is kind of up in the air right now, you don’t really know what’s going on with anything. You have to just be prepared for that, whatever situation that you’re put in. You just want to make the best of your opportunities. If that’s playing NHL, I just want to make the best of my opportunity and hopefully stay up there. If not, wherever I go, make the best of my opportunity there. I’m always trying to be the best player of myself and just make an impact either way.
On anything that stood out today or was maybe even a surprise
Honestly, I can’t really expect what’s going to come right when you get here. It’s time to just almost fall in the pack and see what the guys are doing, kind of following along. Everything is kind of new to me and a lot of it was unexpected. You can practice and all that; you don’t know the tempo is of the drill, so everything is just kind of new to you. You just want to be able to try to do your best, but also you don’t want to be out of place, as well. I think everything was kind of just new to me and really unexpected.
On if there was anything he would describe as a ‘cool moment’
I think it’s all pretty cool, just being able to sit in a pro room and skate with a lot of soon to be Hall of Famers, honestly. There were a lot of skilled guys coming up and just talking to you and just showing you what to do on drills and in certain situations. I think there’s pretty special. There were a lot of pretty ‘wow’ moments here.
On how he thinks the extra training and then playing at the WJC can help him right now
I think there’s a lot to go into with that. It’s my first time learning about myself too, so it’s new to me. I think a lot of stuff’s new to me, but I think it honestly helps my game on the ice. Just being able to mature off the ice and learning the essentials in life, honestly. I think I’m just maturing all around as a person and that’s going to help my game quite a bit, as well.
On if he’d be ready to step into the NHL lineup after practicing with the team for a few weeks of a month
I think I’ll be comfortable, for sure. I think they play pretty — I wouldn’t say an easy system, but just the way they teach it, it’s pretty easy to get to know. There are some areas that you’ve played before, in terms of the structure. Whether it was with my junior teams or just other teams before, I already know a couple of systems. It’s about being able to really just go over it and get comfortable with it. I think I’ll be pretty comfortable with it soon.
On if that means he’ll be ready by Game 2 or Game 22 of the NHL season
Who knows. Whenever they need me, I’ll be ready.
For more with Byfield, be sure to check out his most recent appearance on Kings Of The Podcast, linked below.
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Lead photo provided by LA Kings