On Friday, LAKI posted the first part of a discussion with Rob Blake in which Los Angeles’ new assistant general manager articulated his desire to return to being associated with a National Hockey League club.
“I’ve always wanted to do that since I can remember,” Blake said about his return to the Kings organization.
In the conversation, Blake also revealed the unique challenges presented by working in the Department of Player Safety in addition to his evolving appreciation of Drew Doughty’s ability and the effect that players like Wayne Gretzky and Larry Robinson had on him early in his playing career.
On what he learned from his role in the Department of Player Safety:
“I learned that you could never make the right choice. (laughs) No, believe me, it’s a tough job. Brendan’s in the firing range all the time. He’s got to answer these questions, and that probably one of the more interesting things I learned there is how much research has to go into it. You have to be able to defend your decision to the best that you can. And then you’re still going to have critics say, ‘That’s the wrong thing.’ As long as you believe in what you’re doing, then going forward – it’s kind of like a team. We had myself, Stephane Quintal, Colin Campbell, Mike Murphy. We were kind of his team. We came out of it. We all had varying opinions and that, but when a decision was made, we stayed with that decision, and we went forward with it. But I learned that you have to be able to back up your answer. There has to be a reason, and 30 GMs have to hear it. Not all of them are going to agree with you, but they do want to hear that.”
On what he remembered about Drew Doughty when playing against him, and how that impression has changed in the following years:
“It’s funny, because I think he played with Sean O’Donnell, and I knew Sean real well, so I talked to him a lot about him, and he’s like, ‘You’ve got to watch this kid coming. He’s going to be phenomenal.’ I’ve just seen the growth of his game. I think the game starts to slow down a little bit for him. I think when you come in, you’re young, you’re all over and everything, and part of their development here is slowing that down and making better use of your time on the ice. The thing he’s got, he’s got more ability than maybe almost all the other D in the league. Like, he’s got that ability now. He’s got to put it to the full use and that, but he commands a lot. He controls games, and it’s pretty amazing. I mean, look at what he’s accomplished at a young age. Olympic medal, Stanley Cup, Norris candidate, all within four years. It’s pretty nice.”
On the influence that Wayne Gretzky and the established stars that populated Los Angeles’ roster had on him:
“That was my whole thing. I think I was fortunate early to be surrounded by the great ones in Gretzky, Larry Robinson, Granato, McSorley, all these guys, but I always understood that I had to learn from those guys. I just watched them. It’s no different than here. I’ll walk by Dean’s office, I’ll stop in, I’ll watch, and I’ll see what he’s writing, and I want to know why he’s writing this, or what he’s doing. I followed around the development camp there a few weeks ago, and trying to understand what they were teaching these kids and why, and that. The learning curve is with all the people around you, and I think one thing they’ve done tremendous here is they’ve put that staff in place. It’s easy to come in and sit in this office, and they’ve got their pro scouts. They’ve got their amateur. They’ve got their development. It’s all in place, and you just kind of listen and add input to it.”