Joel Lowry and Jonny Brodzinski have both gone through a full season in the AHL under Reign head coach Mike Stothers. They’re the senior-most players as far as experience goes and they, along with other rookie camp veterans, are now the protectors of their younger teammates for the next few days.
“They know what makes me tick and they exactly know what ticks me off,” Stothers said. “So, it’s your choice. Do you want to know what makes me enthusiastic or do you want to know what just fries my backside?”
Perhaps the greener players just need to listen to Brodzinski’s tips to keep themselves in a positive light when it comes to Stothers’ first impression of them.
“No sitting on the boards. Don’t turn your back to the puck, stuff that will just make his head explode,” Brodzinski said.
Lowry and Brodzinski are on a rookie camp line centered by Mike Amadio, who got his first taste of pro hockey when he joined the Reign for last season’s Calder Cup playoffs. On the back end, Alex Lintuniemi and Paul LaDue round out the team’s first unit.
“The approach we took with Brodz and Lowry was here’s a chance to grow as a leader within the dressing room and I think they welcomed the opportunity to be a role model for the younger guys,” Stothers said. “I don’t think they took it as a slight and we knew they wouldn’t. They’re too good of character people. … They’re going to be that positive influence.”
That same sentiment was echoed by the Kings’ Director of Amateur Scouting, Mike Futa. “It wasn’t in any way a slight, it was actually meant as a huge compliment to having [Stothers] have some guys who are more familiar with him to lead the way for this rookie group,” Futa said.
Some of the players on the rookie camp roster are going through this process for the first time. Two are as young as 18. Stothers said the balance of having leaders around can help the rookies with that inevitable feeling of being overwhelmed.
“When I was their age and going through this whole process I had guys like Nic Dowd and guys like that to look up to and followed,” Brodzinski added. “Just trying to be like those guys and set a good example. On the ice, being the first guy in the drills, showing them how it’s done.”