A lot was made of Patrick O’Sullivan’s comments a few weeks back that seemed to take to task the L.A. market and saying that “nobody cared.” That wasn’t the politically correct thing to say, but when you spend time in Edmonton, you start to understand the difference in culture that O’Sullivan is experiencing, particularly in terms of the media. I counted six camera crews in Edmonton’s locker room after its morning skate. I don’t think I’ve seen a single local TV camera crew, not one, at any of the Kings’ morning skates in L.A. this season.
It’s almost impossible to get a one-on-one interview with an Oiler, because every player of significance is swarmed by reporters. It’s much closer to what the Lakers experience in L.A. The scene around Anze Kopitar’s locker this morning looked exactly like the scrum I’ve seen around Kobe Bryant’s locker at Staples Center.
Anyway, I was a part of the scrum for O’Sullivan’s pregame address to the media this morning. Afterward, as he finished yet another interview and warily walked toward the shower, I joked with him that he must miss the lack of media scrutiny in L.A. He said it was easier in L.A., but not necessarily better, and I think that’s the point he (somewhat awkwardly) has been trying to make…
Question: What’s the feeling, playing against your former team? Is there something a little extra there?
O’SULLIVAN: “Yeah, I think so. It’s the cliche of playing your old team, but it’s exciting. I think, at this point, I feel comfortable with where I am now, here, and the situation I’m in. I’m happy with that. I think last year, we got to play (the Kings) at the end of the year and that was certainly a weird feeling. You look across, and I’d played with some of those guys over there for three years, starting pro hockey together. I have some really good friends there, so that’s the difficult part, but everybody who gets traded has to deal with that. I’m sure most guys have the same answer.”
Question: Do you feel like you have to make a statement in this game at all?
O’SULLIVAN: “No, absolutely not. I’m going to play and prepare the same way I would for any game. It’s no different, just because there’s a personal connection for myself to the team we’re playing. That doesn’t mean I’m going to try to do anything out of the ordinary or go outside of the game plan our team has. It is weird. It’s weird playing against your friends and the people you kind of grew up with. L.A. is always going to be an organization that I feel for. They gave me a chance to play in the league, and they’re the people who developed me to the point where I could be a successful player in the NHL. I think anybody who ends up making it to this level always has some gratitude for the team that helped them get there. That’s certainly the case for them, with myself.”
Question: You’ve been quoted about the differences playing here as opposed to L.A. What exactly does that mean to you?
O’SULLIVAN: “You’re looking at one right now, the circus that is the media every day here. The people here care so much about the team. In L.A., there’s just obviously so much going on, and so much to do, that there’s just not the attention. It’s a different experience. I think both have their good things and both have their bad, as well. I know playing here is fun when you’re doing well, and when you’re not doing well, it’s not so fun. I think, in L.A., you can kind of go under the radar, and when the team’s not doing well, you can just kind of keep it with the team and just deal with it that way, instead of having to expose everyone’s problems. I think those are the differences.”
Question: Do you think it’s better here, in terms of dealing with that pressure? Is it harder or easier when things aren’t going well?
O’SULLIVAN: “I think it can be both. Pressure is good, and there’s definitely pressure here from a lot of people. Obviously fans put pressure on us, and with (the media) around all the time, it’s a pressure that, I think, can help motivate a team. And it does. So on the opposite side, it’s sometimes tough to get up for a game when there’s nobody that really cares, to be honest. It can go either way.”