There was a lot to discuss when the Kings practiced at Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville on Saturday morning – the arrival of Keaton Ellerby, Anze Kopitar’s country of Slovenia qualifying for the 2014 Winter Olympics, and a vastly different set of lines and defensive pairings.

On whether he’s seen a lot of Keaton Ellerby:
“I haven’t. I’ve seen him in junior hockey and know his family. I’ve seen him in Kamloops. I’ve seen him in the Super Series a few years ago. Other than that, it’s basically film…We don’t see him. Quite honestly, I probably haven’t coached against Keaton – you’d have to check – but maybe a couple of times. My brother Dog (Duane Sutter) was familiar with him because he was in Florida when they drafted him. So he was with Keaton probably as an 18, 19, 20, 21 – four or five years. He’d know more, quite honest, about Keaton than I would. He’s a big kid. He can skate. Good skills. We can use him.”

On Ellerby’s development:
“They’re no different than any other high pick. If you look at that year‘s draft, quite honest…I’m thinking of the kids out west that were picked high. Kyle Turris, Brandon Sutter, Keaton Ellerby, Thomas Hickey – I’m just thinking of kids that I knew from out west. You know what? First round doesn’t mean that you’re an NHL player. I think that year in Chicago we (as Calgary) took Backlund. I think Jersey took Zajac…It’s a lot of pressure for a first round kid that’s picked in the top whatever he was. It takes time. It’s very simple. Who cares what happened or didn’t happen. He’s probably right about where most of these guys should be in terms of coming in. I’m just trying to think our team – other than Scuderi – do the rest of them in age groups and see where they are. Just do that breakdown…A boy like Marty is just starting to come on. Slava, even though it’s his third or fourth year, he’s just starting to come on. Two or three of them you don’t know quite sure where they’re at. They’re kids.”

On what “intrigues” him about Ellerby:
“He’s trying to improve. [There are] three or four guys here that haven’t played many NHL games or had much success while they’re doing it. Trying to improve. That’s what intrigues me the most. Trying to get better.”

On whether a change of scenery will benefit Ellerby:
“Very few players play one place their whole careers. Very few, especially defensemen. As I said, he’s big and can skate and he’s got character and we’ve seen times where he can play with an edge, so if he can do that, that overall is improvement. If he can develop consistency with any of them or all of them, then we’ll be a little better for it.”

On bringing back the King-Nolan-Richards line that was together for parts of last season:
“Quite honest, it changes quite a bit. I’m not really isolated on Mike Richards and Dwight King and Jordan Nolan. I think our top players – the guys that get all the credit for what they’ve done, but we’re nine games in, and to me that’s more significant than anything that happened last year. There’s some self-evaluation to be done. It’s not necessarily to do with King and Nolan.”

On whether that self-evaluation is taking place:
“Oh yes. I trust our guys in that way, but we need our top guys to be a hell of a lot better players. That’s clear. That’s not me. That’s clear. If you think about your top offensive guys, what they’re on for, for and against, and what [their] zone time [is], and the way you break things down, you need a lot more from them.”

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Bio

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