John Stevens, on memories from the trip that will remain with him:
I think there’ll be a lot of things. Obviously I’ve never visited China or come to this part of the country, so I got a chance to visit two cities – both were tremendous. The one thing is they’re very different cities. Just have a different feel to them. Shanghai seemed like it was a little more slow-paced and really easy going, and it seemed like it was a little more aggressive when we got here, but both seemed like wonderful cities. But the thing that would stand out was probably the visit to the Wall. I think that was something you’d always heard about. To get the opportunity to do it with the team and the whole group together, I thought that was kind of a special opportunity and just the whole idea of coming this far around the world with a hockey team and playing a couple hockey teams, I think that’ll be memorable for all of us.
Stevens, on Oscar Fantenberg:
He’s a player we’d been informed about but didn’t know a lot about firsthand and didn’t get a chance to see him play a lot. We like his skill set. He’s got a lot of poise with the puck, and it was part of the decision to play him again tonight. We had one other option on defense, but we really wanted to see him again, especially with Drew out of the lineup. We though that he’d get some key situational ice time that sometimes players don’t get when the top guys are in the lineup. We think he’s making a good account of himself. I think he’s gotten better as time’s gone buy, and he’s shown an ability to both defend players at this level and to move pucks with a lot of poise, so he’s been off to a good start.
Stevens, on Jake Muzzin looking to have a bounce-back season, and his play in the preseason:
We’ve been pleased. There were a few guys that have really wanted to get their games back in order, and I think the commitment in the off-season to prepare from those guys, and Jake’s no exception. I think he’s had the summer probably of his life. Not that he’s not a well-trained guy, but he’s really taken it to another level, and his focus has been getting to training camp and getting off to a good start. We talked to him about playing lots in preseason, really getting a good feel for his game and getting a really firm defender-type game back in his identity. I think he’s done that. I think when he defends well, when he’s a hard guy to play against down low, the offense comes and the confidence comes from that part of his game. We certainly like what he’s done to this point, but he’s a determined guy. He’s had a lot of experience playing at a high level and we’re happy to see him taking steps to getting back there.
Stevens, on efforts to return the Kings to contention, and congratulations on his new position:
First of all, thank you, but just in terms of the Kings and getting back to being real competitive playoff contenders, we don’t want to lose the fact that we play defensively, and it’s a key, key component to having success not only during the year but in the playoffs, but there are some areas of our game that we’re trying to get better at. We’ve talked quite a bit about those, just a better offensive attack in terms of penetrating the middle of the ice. In terms of our O-zone play, taking that possession time we have and doing more with it in the middle of the ice. We really like what we’ve seen from our team in training camp. I thought the game before this, we did a really good job. Some of the goals tonight came from below the goal line and plays in the middle of the ice, and those are some of the things we’re going to focus on. And I’m not losing sight of the fact that we need a big commitment off the puck to be successful.
Stevens, on how he’d evaluate the success of the series and popularizing hockey in China:
I think time will tell. But again, I think the fact that we’re able to come over here and expose the game to a country that’s not that familiar with it is going to only help. I know there’s a lot of interest, especially with the Winter Games coming here to grow winter sports, and hockey’s certainly a big part of that. But I’ll say this: the cities we visited and the people here have been tremendous. Extremely kind and friendly, and it’s my hope that the people here will love the game as much as we do in North America. It’s a great game, it’s great for families to be involved because it takes a big commitment from the family for kids to have success in hockey, and hopefully we’ll look back at this time down the road when we’ve got kids coming over maybe playing junior and college, and maybe one day pro hockey players. I think in order to gro w the game you’ve got to start by exposing the game, and it’s my hope that we made big inroads in doing that.
Jake Muzzin, on his gift as China Games MVP, and his performance in the preseason thus far:
I got a custom-made horse piece. It looks pretty nice. I’m excited about it. For my game, I’m just having fun, enjoying it. Getting up in the plays has been fun, being active. Playing with some freedom has been nice, and I think my game has flourished these couple games here, so I’m really excited.
Muzzin, on having a strong summer, and what he focused on:
I decided to stay in California this summer. It was a great decision. Good summer of training, I feel strong and healthy, and I think it’s allowed me to have a little bit more confidence on the ice.
Muzzin, on the most memorable part of the China trip, and the future of hockey in China:
The most memorable thing was being with the guys the first couple NHL games in China. It’s something that we have, a journey that we have together that no one else has done before. Winning two games was huge for us on the business side of it, and traveling to the great wall yesterday was something that a lot of people don’t get a chance to do. What an experience for us to be there and enjoy that. … The future of hockey, I hope it grows here. It’s a great game. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m excited for the future here in China for hockey. It was a great time – we really enjoyed ourselves.
Nick Shore, on team efforts to attack the center of the ice, and how it has been executed thus far:
I think guys just play with a little more freedom in their game. I think you’ve seen that in the first couple preseason games, but I think if you look at our team, it’s kind of just an effort from everybody to help put the puck in the net and do certain things like that.
-Lead photo via Lintao Zhang/Getty Images