More formal media availability will come early this week, but in the immediate aftermath of the 4-3 overtime loss to Anaheim that closed out Los Angeles’ season on Sunday, 39-year-old Jarome Iginla shared publicly for the first time that he was leaning towards returning for one more season, though the ultimate decision would be made with his family’s best interests in mind. In previous discussions, Iginla had said that he hadn’t yet made up his mind as to whether he’d play another season. He is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, his 40th birthday.
“I don’t know for sure, but when I came I was probably 50/50 or leaning but it has been fun and it’s hard. It’s been actually a lot of fun being back and the race and meaningful games and things so I would say I’m leaning more towards believing I’ll come back. It’s fun and I want it to be but at the same time I’ve got to go and talk with the family and see what is. I don’t really know for sure but being here in the last month has been a lot of fun and I would say definitely would like to play more than call it a day but saying that, there’s a lot of things that go into it and I don’t know for sure but I’m hoping to play again. It doesn’t feel like I want that to be the last one.”
In the Kings’ overtime loss, Iginla recorded an assist – his 1,300th NHL point – on Dustin Brown’s third period goal, which was scored on a double deflection by both Brown and Iginla on Derek Forbort’s shot. Based on correspondence near the end of the game, it had appeared as though Brown was trying to inform referee Kevin Pollock that he didn’t touch the puck, though replays showed both Iginla and Brown getting a piece of the shot, which beat Jonathan Bernier and temporarily gave Los Angeles a one-goal lead at 7:55 of the third period.
Iginla finished the 2016-17 season – his 20th on-ice season in the NHL – with 14 goals and 27 points in 80 games. He remains tied with Joe Sakic for 15th place all time with 625 career goals. In 19 games with the Kings, he totaled six goals and nine points.
Anze Kopitar, on how the Kings can improve next season (beginning of reporter’s question inaudible):
Well I think that’s it. That’s everything. And it starts right within the room. Nobody can prepare you mentally and nobody can throw emotion in your game. Like I say, you’ve got to prepare yourself. There’s a bunch of guys that have been there before and know how it feels like so this feeling right now, we should remember for the rest of the summer and know how bad that feels and obviously come next year, come hungry and ready to rock regardless of who’s behind our bench or who’s in the room. We’ve got to come in and play.
Kopitar, on the feeling of knowing some players might not be back next year:
Yeah, it’s certainly not a great feeling but at the end of the day, that’s what happens throughout five year spans or ten year spans or whatever you want to call it. Teams change, the faces within the locker room change and certainly it’s tough to see your friends and the players that you won with go but if that’s the case, you can’t really mope about it. You’ve got to create new memories and get fired up in another way and again, make sure that you play to the best of your ability.
Kopitar, on whether he’ll watch the playoffs:
I’ll follow it. I don’t know if I’m going to sit down and watch it. [Reporter: Do you think the Ducks can do any damage?] Well they’ve been doing damage just couldn’t quite go all the way. So we’ll see if they’ve got it this year.
Kopitar, on how he dealt with the struggles and hurdles over the season:
Well, me personally? I would’ve definitely liked to have a better season than I did. I’ve said it before, that I hold myself to a whole lot higher standards than I showed this year, so. And as you know as I’ve said before, this is a very empty feeling and a sour taste and I’ve got to make sure that I take this and learn from this and improve for next year and be a lot better next year.
Kopitar, on whether he was bothered at all by a wrist injury mid-season:
Yeah, it bothered me a little bit but it was nothing that I haven’t had before.
Jarome Iginla, on whether recording his 1,300th career point holds any significance to him:
Yeah, it does. I’ve been very blessed in my career and got to play for a long time and play with great players and great situations. And I got to play with Kopi or Carts for the most part, and Brownie since I’ve been here and it’s been a lot of fun. It’s something that when you get to a 99 you want to get to the next one and the guys were great. For the last few games they’ve been kind of been trying to help me get there and it was nice. Everyone feels good but it was one that you kind of think about a little bit. It’s important and stuff but kind of one of those neat milestones to try to get to and the guys were great in pulling for me.
Drew Doughty, on not playing in the playoffs:
Yeah it sucks. That’s one thing we talked about after the game, Brownie addressed it, remember this feeling and how crappy this feeling is. That team that we just played, obviously they beat us tonight but they’re going on to bigger and better things and we’re done and we’re going home to hometowns or whatever and it sucks. I don’t want to be at home watching the Stanley Cup playoffs without us in it. And yeah it hurts and there’s so many words that come to mind that could explain the feeling I have right now but at the bottom line is it sucks.
Doughty, on the Kings having a chance to make the postseason:
Yeah there was. Buds played awesome for us while Quickie was out. Yeah, Quickie being out there might’ve been a difference because he would’ve been in there but at the same time the goaltending was not at all to blame for this entire situation. It’s on all the players, the leaders, the young guys, the coaching staff. It’s on everyone in the organization. Mostly the players but we need to be a lot better than we were and that’s the bottom line. We didn’t lose this season at the last three weeks of the season. We lost it in the middle of the season when we weren’t good enough. And we actually had a poor start to the season as well so a lot of fingers can be pointed at everyone.
Doughty, on feeling sad about possible changes to the locker room:
Oh for sure, you develop with these guys on this team, some of ’em are developed for nine years. Some are obviously a little fresher but I love these guys as if they were my brother or sister. We have this relationship where we’re together 24/7. When we’re on the road we’re at the rink together, we’re out to dinner together, we’re out for drinks together, it doesn’t matter what it is. So yeah, obviously I don’t want to see anyone on this team go but at the same time I understand that that needs to happen in order for us to get better and it’s going to happen so you kind of get used to it in this business.
Doughty, on how he compares his season this year to last year:
I really didn’t do too much different this year. I felt, if anything, I took a step in the leadership category for sure. No doubt in my mind. And I felt more comfortable out there as a player and I feel like my goals against numbers, the amount of goals I was on for against was a lot better than it was last season and that was one thing I really focused on this summer to get better. I know no one even really mentioned me in the Norris talk this year but to me my season was pretty similar to last. [Reporter: You were working with young defenseman, too.] Right. I had a young partner the entire season. And Derek was a great partner for me, Brayden was a great partner for me. They’re all awesome but yeah. I don’t know why this season seems not to be talked about as much. Probably because we’re not as good a team and we weren’t in the playoff hunt and stuff like that so I think with being up for that Norris trophy, I do think you have to have a successful team along with you because I think that’s what a winner deserves, is to have both.
Doughty, on whether the Ducks have a shot at the Stanley Cup:
I’m not going to say ‘no,’ but I think that there’s better teams in the Western Conference, for sure.