With the exit day quotes nearing their expiration dates, it’s time to move past the aftermath of the 2017-18 season and start focusing on the transition to the off-season and the 2018-19 season that lies ahead. Player evaluations should start early next week. Additional looks at the salary structure and team financials will also be scrutinized in the near future, as will dives into Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty’s bid for league hardware. Teenage draft hopefuls will be profiled. We Have Experienced This Type Of May Before.
But first! There are still a few more quotes worth sharing. I didn’t get to all the Dustin Brown stuff, so that’s listed below – a reminder that conversations with Dustin Brown are so often revealing – along with the a few remaining quotes from Kings President Luc Robitaille and Head Coach John Stevens.
ADDITIONAL END-OF-SEASON COVERAGE: Doughty clearly the Kings’ “number one priority” this off-season | Does Kempe project at center or wing? How much untapped production is there? | Quick exit interview transcript, video | Despite “unacceptable” conclusion, team confident in short, long-term focus | Brown (shoulder), Lewis (hand) undergo surgeries | In push to raise ceiling, call for more regular secondary scoring sounded | Advances, but still work to be done, in push to become – and play – faster
Luc Robitaille, on whether the Kings have been approached to participate in upcoming overseas trips:
No. There might be some things happening in two to three years. I think every team in two to three years is going to have some ask or so forth, but there’s nothing for us next year. Just focusing on the season itself and making sure that we’re ready to go, because we know we’ve got to get to the next level.
Robitaille, on whether it’s a “normal off-season,” given there’s no China Trip or World Cup:
I don’t think we’ll ever have a ‘normal off-season.’ We’re looking at it where we’ve got to improve and improve now. We look to evolve in what we do every year. We want our young players to get better. There are some guys that we believe that we can help get a little quicker, get a step in their game and so-forth. We’re never probably going to have a normal off-season because this organization tries to get better every year.
John Stevens, on addressing the discrepancy between first and third period goal differential:
I’ll be totally honest – that’s the area we’re looking at first. That’s the area that you guys just took me away from. What we’re going to look at, and you have to do some analysis, we’re going to look at all the goals that we scored for and against in every period, what situations they came from, what players were on the ice, what are we seeing. We also have the ability to do a lot of work over the course of the year to track segments, and we talk about five-game segments, but if you shift by a game at a time, you can end up with a lot of five-game segments. So, you might finish on a back-to-back and went to a new segment, looking at trends during the year, this is an interesting year with all the breaks that were implemented in the year with the All-Star Break, with the five-day break, with the Christmas break, and then they had four-day breaks in there. We’re going to look at all that and see where we can improve, see where there are dips in our team, see the situation. We’ve already seen a couple trends that have presented themselves where there’s a big discrepancy in areas of the ice where there’s either production or teams score … and where is it coming in the hockey game, and I think we can learn from that. We can learn from that as a group as of preparation, we can learn from that how we need to play in different situations, and we can learn from that in OK, where are these goals being created from? Are these goals that are putting us down early in hockey games, where are they coming from? When you take a good look at that stuff, there are trends that start to present themselves that I think you can go about fixing, but there’s going to be some further analysis before we pinpoint exactly what the – clearly, a huge advantage in the third period in terms of differential, and we were on the wrong side of it in the first period. That’s something that you want to change.
Dustin Brown, on what the team needs to do to facilitate a deeper run in the playoffs:
I think we’ve had some players here that here that have been here for a long time that have won championships. I still think those players are capable. We have some younger guys that have gotten some tastes this year. Like any other team, they need to make the next step and the older players need to help them make that next step and that’s what it comes down to. If you want to be a contender you have to have new players come in and have impacts. Again, that’s for the young players to be excited about having that opportunity and older players to help those guys along.
Brown, on why the team was limited to three goals in the Vegas series:
I think a lot of things really, but some guys I mean we had really good opportunities to score. I literally had a puck on the foot outside the crease with an empty net and missed it. You had Kopi in the same game missed two empty nets so it was like—power play. Power play definitely wasn’t good enough. Not that you rely on your power play during the game, but it definitely can give you momentum and get you goals. I don’t know what our percentage was throughout the course of the year, but it scored big goals for us, which it didn’t in the series. I think probably the biggest thing is we didn’t generate, we didn’t have waves of attack, we had one good shift and then another four or five minutes and then another good shift where when you’re on your game as a group, as a team, you just wave after wave and that’s when you get the sustained pressure and eventually a goal breaks through. We had one or two good shifts and then we never maintained that pressure. And like I said, guys like myself, Kopi, we had really good opportunities and couldn’t score and that’s sometimes how hockey is.
Brown, on whether it hurts more to lose four one-goal games:
I mean losing any series is hard. This is the first time I’ve been swept. That’s another different type of thing. But I think this series was closer than the series we had against San Jose. The five-game series I don’t think was remotely close. I think Vegas has played really good and they executed well. They made very few mistakes and that’s a credit to them. We had to work for everything we got and again, we missed some opportunities, but at the end of the day, it’s better than getting blown out every game. We were in every game and that’s I think, at the end of the day you want to win, but that’s what sports are about. Sometimes you fall short.
Brown, on the narrow margin of victory:
Like I said, it comes back to our goal scoring. I mean we gave up seven goals in four games. I think if you said that going into the series that first set of four games we were going to give up seven goals—we’d take that bet, we’d probably think that we’d be in a better situation than 0-4. But hockey’s a funny game, and again, I don’t want to say it’s our ability to score goals because we had opportunities to score. I think we needed to generate more consistently and then the opportunities we did have, it’s not like guys aren’t bearing down. I always think that’s funny when guys or people are saying, ‘They need to bear down on their chances.’ It’s not like we’re trying to miss these empty nets or not score. I don’t know what ‘bearing down’ means, really.
Brown, on maintaining his off-season training regimen:
I mean I feel good. I’m 33, so I probably feel better now than I did when I was 28, 29. That’s a lot of the work I do in the off-season and this is nothing special it’s just at the end of the day you’ve got to put work in if you want to keep playing because it’s getting not only faster, but younger.
-Lead photo via Adam Pantozzi/NHLI