January 15 practice quotes: Darryl Sutter

On the four full days between games:
We had two days off, two practices. It allowed one day for the Children’s Hospital visit, which is a good thing, too. Just as important.

On what makes Erik Karlsson so difficult to defend against:
He thinks get-going up ice all the time. He’s always looking for space, and he can do it while he’s carrying the puck. … Those top-end guys can do everything while they’ve got the puck. That’s probably the toughest part.

On any concern the Kings face a non-conference opponent before a rivalry game:
Well, we’ve only talked about Ottawa this week, so that’s really all that the coaches can do. I think our players, we’ve always done a good job with that – not getting ahead of themselves or not taking a loss and burning themselves next game or winning and not being ready for the next game. I think for the most part our team has the leadership and the resolve to stay focused. We’re trying to play another game.

On how closely he followed Vincent Lecavalier’s career:
The thing that jumped out from 2004 – again, then we weren’t going out of conference a lot, either – the biggest thing was after playing against him in the seven games, and we were talking about both him and Brad Richards in that they were as close to, like when we used to play Colorado and they had Sakic and Forsberg, guys like that, I remember after we played them those seven games, going, ‘Jeez, those two kids are good players.’ In a series, a lot of times you’ll see a guy on a night during the regular season, he jumps out at you or something like that, but until you see them actually in that environment, you don’t appreciate it. Quite honest, that’s why I think that a lot of their respect is learned between opponents is in big series. I remember most about that about Vinny, and then obviously over the years is quietly the respect that he has amongst his peers is what we see. [Reporter: I think everybody’s eyes were opened when he fought Jarome.] I think that the best way of saying it is he’s looked on as a great competitor. [Reporter: So far it looks like he’s been really good in the faceoff circle. That has to be a component of your game that really helps you, having that size.] It’s a part of our game that’s really dropped off this year, if you look at the numbers, and to remain a top possession team with our faceoff percentage being as low as it is is almost remarkable. [Reporter: You must like the size of him in the circle, right?] You know what? Big is only good if you can move. Otherwise you might as well be little and move, but Vinny’s still a really strong skater. I don’t like talking about it, quite honest … because to me, he’s a great player. That’s what I see. On the right team, I see that. Guys have got to fit in to the teams they’re on. Because Vinny went to Philadeplhia and scored 20 goals and whatever happened happened, it’s not necessarily the player. Or maybe it is – you don’t know. Clearly the fit is good for us. Clearly it is. It doesn’t matter if he’s the third center or the fourth center. It doesn’t matter. The way we play, or the way we expect our players to play, that’s not an issue. All you have to do is go back over the last five years with our team now – this being the fifth year – and you see how those roles have changes with the centermen, and how they accepted them, and how much better it made our team, and when that role wasn’t filled, how much our team dropped off. I think he can really help our hockey club. [Reporter: From a personality perspective in the room, too, at least to us, he seems like an easygoing guy, easy to talk to. Is that type of leadership something that helps, that veteran sort of wanting one more kick at the can?] We want to make the playoffs and we want to win. I don’t care if he’s nice to you or he’s bad to you. I couldn’t care less if he’s a great interview. I couldn’t care less about that. We’re trying to make the playoffs and we’re trying to win. It’s what goes on out on the ice that matters. That’s all that matters. [Reporter: I know it doesn’t matter with us, but that’s what we see.] No, it does matter because it’s a little bit of a perception always, correct? ‘He’s a good interview, so he’s a good player.’ [Reporter: But is it accurate, is sort of the question.] How would I know? If I sit down with Vinny and visit with Vinny, I’m not going to tell you what I talked to him about. As I said, great players that have had great careers, a hundred percent of the time – a hundred percent of the time – are really good people, too. Think about it. In our sport, you can find very few hockey players who aren’t top, top people. So, I’m assuming based on his career and what he’s done and not just the NHL, on other stages, he’s a pretty well respected guy.

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