On Monday’s team building exercises:
It was great. I thought it was really good. I thought the guys really embraced the idea. They get them involved right away with some dynamic challenges that I think get their attention right away, and I think the guys learned a little bit about themselves, a little bit about each other, and had some fun together, so I thought it was really good. [Reporter: We heard the coaches group did not win. Is that accurate?] Well, we had two goals at the start of the day. As our coaching group, we wanted to make sure we completed all the tasks, which we did, and we wanted to make sure we finished number one. It didn’t appear that we did at first, but after we did the debrief, I think all three of the player teams should’ve been disqualified for different reasons, so we are claiming number one. [Reporter: Is this something you guys have done with the team each year, or is it a new, different way this year?] We’ve never done it since I’ve been her. I’ve used this group before, both in the American League and in the National League. They’ve actually worked here with the Kings years ago. It’s a group that does a lot of corporate team building and a lot of different teams. I think Marc Crawford used ‘em when he was here years ago. I think Mike Cammalleri has used ‘em either here or somewhere else, so they’ve worked with different teams before. I think they’re very experienced. They’ve been in the business a long time. We’ve had very good results when we’ve used them before, so we threw the idea around this summer. Something we planned on probably mid-summer to get them arranged to come in here, and with the schedule the way it was, we just felt the timing was good. A couple of games under our belt, new team, everyone kind of had a chance to bond a little bit in China, and then followed up with them this time. We felt the timing was good. [Reporter: It’s hard to quantify, probably, but is there something you saw coming out of working with this group before that helped a team?] There are a lot of things. First of all, they break down your personality, what your strengths are and why you are where you are. They break the room down into different personalities and actually give you some descriptions to describe yourself, and they’re bang on. We all have tendencies, whether you’re thoughtful or you’re engaging, and it’s not good or bad, it’s just different, and I think when guys understand that it’s really good. They give you a problem-solving model, and you have to work together as a team to problem-solve it. It’s really what we do on a daily basis, so I just thought that interaction where guys are forced to work together [is good], and some pretty significant challenges. We’ve got to think a little bit, you’ve got to work a little bit, you’ve got to commit to a plan, so to me all those things relate to what we do on a daily basis. [Reporter: Did they know it was going to happen, like, after the game Saturday? Or was it always on the schedule?] They knew it was coming, and I actually talked to the leadership through the course of the summer when we were planning it, and then they knew it was coming, but we let them know after the game in San Jose. Just because they have families, we needed a little more commitment of their time that day that they were going to be around until the mid-afternoon, so it was more of an awareness of the commitment of time – if guys had stuff with their kids and their families going on. We did about 90 minutes of work here after practice, had lunch, and then went out in the field. It worked out well. They were done by probably three o’clock, so it wasn’t a long, long day, but I thought it was productive.
On the benefit of having Brooks Laich skate with the group:
I think it’s unusual, but it’s not unique. There have been lots of teams. I know Hitch has done it a lot. It seems every time we go up to St. Louis they had somebody practicing there. It was just a situation that works for both parties because Brooks lives here, he keeps himself in really good shape, he still wants to try and play, and he’d ideally like to play here. He’s a veteran guy that’s got a great attitude that’s well conditioned that’s really been good for our team and especially our young guys. Practices with young guys, working on faceoffs, he’s still a good student of the game. I think it’s been a win-win situation with him, and for us.
On Kings-Flames “tension,” and whether a “message” needs to be sent:
No, I don’t think there’s any message-sending at all. I think it’s a team in our division, and we have to get established against a team in our division. I think the reason that there’s some ill will with the two teams is because we’re trying to beat each other, and they’ve really improved as a hockey team. The division’s really improved because I think Calgary and Edmonton’s gotten an awful lot better, and we’ve been ahead of them in the division for quite a few years now, and they’re starting to get really competitive in the division. So, I think that’s why it’s changed. They’ve got some really talented guys, they’ve got some grit and toughness in their lineup, and just like what we talked about with Anaheim and San Jose, we’re standing in each other’s way, so I look at it more as we’ve got to get established in the division against a division opponent at home.
-Several omitted quotes were used in an earlier story.
-Lead photo via Juan Ocampo/NHLI.