Out since late January with injuries sustained in game vs. the Minnesota Wild, Kings defenseman Sean Walker returned to the lineup Monday night vs. the St. Louis Blues.
Earlier in the day, LA coach Todd McLellan didn’t tip his hand, but did share some pre-game thoughts about the potential of Walker drawing in.
“After taking a shot in the face, we have to make sure that emotionally he’s ready to go back in, even with a cage on,” stated McLellan. “You have to have that conversation with him and you have to be able to read what he’s telling you. Cut through the BS sometimes and figure it out from there.”
Walker apparently passed the test, as he slotted in on his usual right side of the third pairing, and went on to log nearly 18 minutes of ice time and finished with a a plus-1 rating.
Here's your feel-good story of the day…
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) February 20, 2021
Following Kings practice on Monday, Walker shared the following thoughts:
Walker on the emotional side of returning from injury, something coach Todd McLellan spoke about yesterday
I think some people would think that I’m maybe scared of the puck or getting hit with the puck again. It’s not something that’s crossed my mind a lot. I feel pretty comfortable out there. Obviously, I’m wearing a cage right now, but I think even when I get back to the visor I’ll be okay. It’s just part of the job. Unfortunately, it happened to me, but we’ll move past it.
On what he was doing while out of the lineup to best prepare himself for when he returns
A mix of everything. When you’re watching the games you get to see a lot more things from the sky and you can pick out certain things, figure out what you might want to do better, or watch guys and see what they’re doing and think about doing it yourself. For me, it was an injury where I had to make sure I was on top of my conditioning, stuff like that. Making sure I was feeling okay, that was the main focus. Then, once I got back to practice, just dialed it in there and made sure I was prepared to go.
On if any of the Kings young defensemen have stood out to him
I think all of them have been playing really well. Mikey Anderson last year came up and played amazing, he’s done the same thing this year. Toby playing great. Strander came in and opened a lot of people’s eyes. He played really well. For him, that was huge. Hopefully, he can continue to grow and contribute to our team eventually.
On coming back to a team that’s on a winning streak and possibly disrupting the flow
The team is playing really well. It makes it easier, actually, to come back into the lineup. Not trying to do too much when you first get out there, make sure you’re comfortable and get your hands back and mindset in the game. When everyone’s playing so well, it makes it a lot easier on you. That was huge for me. Hopefully, everyone continues going the same way and we’ll have some success.
On the most difficult part of returning from this specific injury
I wouldn’t say it’s much different than any other type of injury. I have to wear a cage, so that’s the main thing. That was the issue, just getting used to that. Besides that, I think it’s very similar to any other injury – make sure you’re on top of your conditioning and the trainers put in place a return-to-play program for you. So really it was only the cage. Besides that, make sure I was ready to go when my time came.
On the challenges of wearing a cage
It’s just something you have to get used to again. I wore a cage in college, so after a couple of skates it comes back to you. There’s a cage in your face, instead of a visor. It’s a little awkward at first, but once you get comfortable with it again, it’s fine.
On the growth and biggest change to the team during his absence
It’s our level of execution. Look at our neutral zone, our breakouts, capitalizing on our scoring chances. Those are all the areas that led to the success that we’re having lately. We just have to keep doing that and it should go our way.
Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please remember to include a link to www.MayorsManor.com