Hextall on Manch Part 2
Ron talks about “interacting” with players when in Manchester…does the system with the Monarchs change since Darryl Sutter is now the Kings’ coach…Freddy Meyer, new assistant coach with Manch…we also get a scouting report on Tanner Pearson and Nikolay Prokhorkin…
JF: How much interaction do you have with players when you get down to Manchester? Do you talk to them on a one-on-one basis?
RH: Sometimes I do. It’s almost like if everything is going good and all the players are playing up to their capabilities you know typically I’ll just have the normal locker room chatter. If certain things aren’t going right for a player—a player doesn’t understand something that’s going on I’ll sit them down and talk to them, but for the most part I don’t want to coach. I don’t want to—you know Mark’s the coach and Freddy’s the assistant, and I don’t get into that part of it. I certainly have long discussions with the coaches and with Hubie, but for the most part again I don’t want to coach the players, I don’t want to send mixed messages, I just believe in “coaches coach”.
JF: The head coach at the NHL level changed last year obviously for the Kings, Darryl Sutter comes in—usually that means adjustments to the minor league team as far as system, you always want to be on the same page, anything you expect to change down in Manchester this year?
RH: Well, we actually had John Stevens go out to Manchester two days before training camp, sat down with Mark, and Freddy Meyer, a first year coach, he went down with him for two days. They went through all of their systems, top to bottom and then Johnny took off for a few days and then he came back for the first weekend in preseason just to once again go over systems. They went over the games that we just played, Johnny saw the games, picked things out. We want that team playing identical systems up here so when guys come up, they’re only thinking about playing the NHL. It’s enough on their mind there and if you have to change systems as well you know all of a sudden guys aren’t just going out and playing—they’re going out and thinking. We’ve installed that and Johnny’s been really good, going in there and watching video, he’s actually watched a video of our practices and kind of given drills that we do up here. The transition—the one thing that the lockout has provided us is that platform right there that we might not have in past years so you’re looking at a positive and that certainly is it, and they are playing an identical system as we are up here and quite frankly it’s worked very well so far.
JF: Scott Pellerin was an assistant coach for Manchester for six years, he’s moved on this year head coach for Bridgeport Sound. Tell us about bringing Freddy Meyer in as an assistant coach in out there in Manchester.
Scott Pellerin Freddy Meyer
RH: Well first of all Scotty did a terrific job for us. As you mentioned, he’s been with us for six years and there’s nobody happier than I was that he had an opportunity to move a head coach—we didn’t have an opportunity and I felt like he was ready for it. That was good and really, it’s a credit to our organization that someone else is moved on into a higher position and so good for Scott. Freddy is a guy I had a little bit of knowledge on from Philadelphia with the Phantoms and then with the Flyers. He was a very smart player, he worked hard, he was honest, he was an undersized defenseman, carved out a nice career for himself, so when I went through a list of potential coaches I had six or seven guys I had interest in and out of a long list and Freddy he just met all of the criteria—I wanted a younger guy who could relate with the players. Mark is in his fifties and I’m getting up there almost 50 too and I wanted a young guy who could relate with the players, who kind of grew up in their generation or close to it and I wanted a guy that played in the American League, played in the NHL, went up and down and Freddy fit every criteria. I talked to John Stevens about Freddy because he coached him back with the Phantoms and the Flyers. He thought he’d be a great candidate so brought him out and interviewed him. He really fit the bill to a tee and thus far and I’ve asked Johnny a little bit about it too but he picks up, he’s right on x’s and o’s—on top of our video systems and everything, he’s really caught on quickly. So far he’s done a really good job. I’m really excited about him—he’s a really good kid, he’s very smart, he’s very poised, he’s a really good teacher so far, so he’s going to do a really good job for us.
Scouting Report: Tanner Pearson
RH: Tanner is a big body, don’t know him as well as I know the other guys but I saw him four games, some preseason games and the first two games of the regular season. He, again, he’s a big body he’s got a real good shot and a real quick release, which those two together as you know—they’re lethal. He skates well enough, but can improve. He makes really good subtle plays with the puck. He puts the puck in the right spot—he’s a little bit, I guess if I had to compare him, probably with Dwight King. He’s not a real flashy player but he’s a big body, he gets to the net and he puts the puck in the right place—the little give and go plays he makes. He’s a smart player and again he’s a 20-year-old coming out of nowhere—done a good job for us so far.
Scouting Report: Nikolay Prokhorkin
RH: Nick, he surprised me a little bit. We just drafted him this year, I didn’t know the player very well going into camp but he’s a big kid, he’s not filled out but he’s a big kid who could really skate. He’s not the type of Russian that you kind of expect. We drafted a Russian and you think he’s going to come in and highly skilled and like the one-on-one play and dangle through guys and Nick is more of a straight line player, gets in the forecheck, runs people, he’s got a little bit of a mean streak in him. In saying that, he does have some one-on-one stuff in his game, probably a little bit too much for North America right now, where you don’t beat guys. He’s beaten some guys early here, scored a couple of nice goals. He’s got some skills, he can make plays—I’m actually, I try to contain my enthusiasm about him because it’s early in the season—a lot of times you see a young kid and he has a real good start to the season and then they just hit a wall. It happens fairly consistently, but he’s got a lot of jam in his game and a lot of spunk and again, containing it, but he’s a good prospect for us.