Dwight and Jordan talk about coach Sutter…skill development…areas they have improved and areas they need to focus on…and confidence!
JF: Is there anything that Darryl Sutter said…maybe he showed a clip of you…anything that came directly from Darryl…maybe it was just a short conversation…maybe it was who he put you on the line with…that helped you with your confidence to not only “be there”, but also have an impact on a team that won a Stanley Cup?
Jordan Nolan: I think just the confidence he gave me by putting me out there day in and day out…obviously he had to scratch some guys…some healthy older guys that wanted to be in the lineup and just for the fact that he put me in there and I obviously was a rookie and just called up and I was probably the first choice to scratch, one of the easiest guys you could easily just put in the stands and not feel too bad about it. I’m just glad he kept me in the lineup and I think that definitely gave me confidence because there’s definitely lots of guys that could have been in that role, that were older guys and had been there in situations like that before, so I think just the confidence that he kept me in the lineup and he scratched me once during the season and he let me play all 20 games in the playoffs was definitely was a good thing. It’s nice knowing your coach has confidence in you and is not afraid to put you in certain situations and he was definitely hard on me but I knew he wanted me to succeed and do well.
Dwight King: Right from the start he gave both of us—me and Jordan—a great opportunity going right onto a line and play with a great player, Mike Richards, and before the game he actually talked to both of us and just kind of let us know that it was an opportunity and he is going to give us this chance to show that we can play and believe in ourselves. He watched us in Manchester right before we came up so he knew us and he kind of told us to work on things that you know work for you as a player and bring them out here and try to help the Kings now. I think him having that confidence in us and giving us that opportunity right away really showed that he trusted us and wanted us to be there.
JF: Nowadays a lot of teams are putting a huge emphasis on skill development and Dean Lombardi has been a pioneer in creating a department for skill development and having development coaches/consultants go around and work on things. Is there anything that sticks out in your development with the Kings…an area you really have improved your game as far as skill goes.
Jordan Nolan: I think definitely just confidence with the puck. Obviously my role was a little different last year in the NHL and I was definitely just breaking into my game and feel more confident out there. Practice last year in the American League and this year in practice I definitely feel more confident with the puck, puck protection and just not being afraid to take the puck to the net and make plays. I know LA has a great staff and great player development guys that been around for the past few years ever since I was drafted and they definitely put a lot of work and a lot of time in with me and I definitely feel a lot better about my game and pretty confident in certain situations so they definitely put in the time and it’s starting to come through.
Dwight King: I’ve been in the development system and still am learning as I play. It definitely was interesting to see the breakdown of different skill development that you can add to a personal game for any other player. The emphasis on having the puck and being able to control it is a huge part of the game and I think learning different techniques and not just protect it in the corner but different techniques you can protect it and take it to the net, has helped me and is going to continue to help the organization in the future. Obviously there’s still some tricks you can learn as you go and overall I think it’s just, for me, a big part of my game is being able to hold on to the puck and protect it and I was definitely learning tricks here and there from the whole development staff, so it’s definitely beneficial.
JF: I want to get specific here if I can, just when we talk about players a lot of the times we talk about skills, we say he has great hands, how much of this development involves foot work and positioning?
Dwight King: Quite a bit. Skating is a huge part of the game, not just learning how to properly utilize your stride, but I think using your positioning of your feet along the boards for rimmed pucks or in front of the net for proper balance, just little things that you can tweak along the way. They’re there to help you, they obviously have the video to kind of gauge off people who have mastered it over the years and give tips to players and I think that’s very helpful to guys who have done it successfully and you just try to mimic and make it into your own and carry that skill on for yourself.
JF: Everyone can work on things and improve, that goes without being said, but what part of your game do you think you’ve come the farthest in, improved the most.
Jordan Nolan: I think just my consistency, it was the same in junior and my first year pro, I think I could be one of the best players out there on the ice one night and then the next night I could be the absolute worst. I think that’s definitely something I have to work on whether it’s just focusing or knowing my role or what I have to do out there but I definitely think that’s the biggest part that changed and that was the reason why I was called up there and I stayed in the lineup. So I think definitely that’s probably the biggest thing in my game because if I wasn’t consistent I probably would have got sent down a level and not called up one so that definitely helped me.
Dwight King: I think just being able to pick up the pace of reacting. I’ve always felt I could think the game well, it’s just a matter of knowing the way and the process of thinking what you want to do and actually going out there and doing it, which is pretty important when you’re playing at a high level and you always want to be able to move the puck and get yourself out of situations.
JF: Everyone feels they can improve in all areas, but what part of your game do you really think you need to focus on to get better?
Jordan Nolan: I definitely worked on getting faster and stronger I think for the role that I played last year in the season and playoffs I needed to be in good shape because you have to go out there only a few times and push as hard as you can or you won’t go back on the ice and there’s some big bodies that I might have to mix it up with sometimes. I got in a scrap with Ben Eager, a pretty tough customer, he’s a tough guy so definitely I have to put the work in and get a little stronger for those types of situations. I think you can work on everything…you can work on your speed a little bit, your shot, your puck protection for the next level because they’re pretty skilled up there and can take the puck from you pretty quick but I think I can get better on everything just a little bit, there’s no certain aspect on my game that I need to work on.
Dwight King: I think I can continue to get better. Honestly protecting the puck is a big part of it, you can pick up things here and there, just continue to work on different releases, different shots, maybe different deception moves you can utilize. I’ve just got to continue to work on that. Overall, put it all together and continue to be consistent it.
JF: I know we’ve talked about it before. The difference between when you joined the Kings a year ago and the time you were recalled last season and it seemed like that read and react game was much improved and that led to improved confidence?
Dwight King: Yeah no, for sure. When your confident it takes a lot of the hesitation out of the game and I think like I said that was a big thing for me, believing in myself…to trust my read and react as quick as possible to accomplish what needs to be done.