Sat down to chat with Ron Hextall to discuss what’s happening and what’s expected from the Kings AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. With the current situation, Ron has spent more time than usual watching and working with everyone in Manchester and he was asked to comment on “big picture” issues as well as “breaking-it-down” for us regarding some of the younger players in New Hampshire. Specifically I asked Ron about seven of the youngest players, now in Manchester, that maybe we don’t know much about here in Los Angeles. I have broken the chat down in four segments with each segment ending with Ron’s take on a specific player or two. In part one he speaks about watching a Kings game compared to watching a Monarchs’ game…conversations he might have with the Monarchs’ staff…how often he sees Manchester play or communicates with the staff and he breakdown the games of Andy Andreoff and Nick Deslauriers…
JF: When your watching a Kings game compared to watching a Monarchs game, do you watch it differently?
RH: Yeah it’s a little bit different. Obviously the American League level, the kids are down there for a reason, they’re not quite the finished product yet. You’re evaluating their growth within the year, their growth as a group. There’s a little more patience there, probably because you got younger kids and a lot of first year guys and they’re going to make their mistakes—it’s just part of the growth process, so it is a little bit different. Emotionally, you’re probably just as plugged in or close to it. You want to win the game, we want to bring our kids up in a winning environment and teach them that winning is important, so there are definitely differences.
JF: Can you bring me in perhaps as close as you can to a conversation that you might have with Hubie McDonough or Mark Morris, when the Kings need players, Kings have injuries, you got to have call ups or for a reason you made last year, just to bring King and Nolan up, knowing that you are taking away from their chances, because they are the affiliate of the Kings. How does that conversation go?
RH: Well, Mark and Hubie and Scotty Pellerin in the past and now Freddy Meyer—they are very good with it, they understand the role within the organization and they understand they are a development team. On the other hand, again winning is important, we want to bring our kids up in an environment but again they take pride in the fact that player x, player y brought up to the Kings is doing well. I mean I don’t think there’s anybody who took more pride than Mark and Hubie in the kids that helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup last year that have come through Manchester. The list is long now and those guys have done a great job and again they understand that they’re developing players for the LA Kings and again when they come up they’re almost happy for the players as opposed to thinking oh this is really going to hurt our team.
JF: How often do you actually get to Manchester during the season or maybe follow them on the road during a season and then how often do you communicate with Hubie or with Mark?
RH: I try to go to Manchester once a month, anywhere from five to seven days, so you know typically I’ll catch a Wednesday, Friday, Saturday or Friday, Saturday, Sunday—I catch a few days of practice so I try to go five to seven days once a month depending on what’s going on with the Kings it can go one way or the other, where I don’t quite go in there once or month or maybe I go a little bit more if things are going well for the Kings. It kind of plays off on some of the other work I have to do but for the most part I try to be consistent in getting down there it’s important to see the growth of the players and like you mentioned earlier we got to call a guy up, it’s important that I’ve seen that team within a few weeks of when we’re calling a guy up and then I make the call to Mark and/or Hubie and see what they think in terms of here’s what we need and who do you guys think the best guy is but I need to evaluate that process as well.
Andy Andreoff-Scouting Report
Hextall: Big, strong two-way center, he can always play the wings. He’s got some flexibility there, he’s physical, he never takes a shift off. He can fight if he has to; he plays really hard against top players on the other team. Faceoffs are good but I think they can get better—it’s one of the things that he can work on, but he’s got pretty good skills too, so he’s not just a defensive player. He’s a full seat player who, he’s got a couple goals already and he’s got a good enough skills to produce nice numbers.
Nick Deslauriers-Scouting Report
Hextall: Nick is a bit of a wild horse, he’s a big strong kid I’m not sure he even knows how strong he is, he can be mean at times, he’s a little bit of a runner, which we like—you tame the horse a little bit right. Got decent skills, he’s very good at carrying the puck up the ice, for a big man he can really move and his game is more under control this year that it was last year. We’ve really seen some growth in him. I just, I love his attitude, he’s hungry and he wants to make a difference in a game and you know take a huge run on a guy, he tries to turn the momentum in a game and again he’s certainly made strides from last year.