Thomas Hickey’s time with the Kings has been a series of fits and starts. Impressive at times, held back by injuries at others, Hickey is still looking for his big breakthrough with the Kings. I caught up with him after today’s development camp game…
Question: You’ve been to a handful of these now. You must feel pretty comfortable at a camp like this…
HICKEY: “We sort of talk about it and joke about it, because Bud (Holloway) has been here, I think this is his fifth camp, so he’s the real veteran, but it’s fun coming back, and they do a good job of making sure there’s new stuff to learn every year. So you get a lot out of it every time.”
Question: Does the confidence level just go up a little bit each time? I’m sure you’re glad to be healthy right now…
HICKEY: “It was a difficult season, and I was thankful that I finally got in at the end there and finally got healthy and played and contributed. It’s much easier going into the summer when you’re coming off playing, as opposed to not knowing where you’re at. So it feels really good right now.”
Question: And to get that playoff experience, how big was that?
HICKEY: “Yeah, that’s big. Missing games in the regular season is one thing, but if you’re a player, you want to play in the playoffs. I got the opportunity to do that, and I think it means a little bit more to your career.”
Question: Ron Hextall, in particular, singled you out for your effort during that final playoff game. Even though you lost, do you look at that game as a highlight for yourself?
HICKEY: “It was an elimination game. We had our backs to the wall, and everyone was just working so hard. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it, but everyone’s mindset was to just go as hard as you can, because we had a whole summer ahead of us. So we all put it out there.”
Question: How closely do you follow what’s going on with the Kings? There is the potential for one or two spots to be open on defense here. Do you look at that as motivation?
HICKEY: “I can look at it two ways. Obviously I’m keeping my eye on that, because I want to be a part of the L.A. Kings, but at the same time, I know it’s about what I do. It’s not about how many spots are open. I’ve got to work really hard and have a really good camp, and part of that is me being down here and working with (strength coach) Tim Adams. It’s more about getting my game where I need it, as opposed to what’s open.”
Question: There’s not much you can do about the injuries, but were they frustrating again this season?
HICKEY: “They’re very frustrating. I had the shoulder at the start of the year, and then finally getting healthy and feeling good and getting back to playing, and then the day before the playoffs, hurting my ankle again. You learn a lot, though. You learn how to work hard to get back. It’s about being mentally strong, and making sure that when you do get that chance to get back in the lineup, that your’e not a liability and you’re ready to contribute. So that was a big part of the learning for me this year.”
Question: How much concern, though, is there that the injuries keep popping up for you?
HICKEY: “Absolutely. The one thing with the shoulder was, it was lingering for probably four years, and that’s when I finally got it checked out and got it done. So that wasn’t something that just happened from playing against bigger guys. But I understand that you’ve got to train your body and be ready, and that’s what the summers are for and that’s why I’m here right now, to get my body in shape so that those things aren’t even on my mind.”
Question: Anything in particular that you’re working on in your game?
HICKEY: “With Tim, he’s got a whole philosophy for training, but it’s more about getting your body intact, starting with your core and then going from there. When your’e stable, the rest of your body will be more durable and less prone to injury, so that’s the biggest thing, to start out.”