Happy Hump Day, Insiders!
We’ve reached the second wave of these posts, so what better way to go than with the second line. Phillip Danault and Trevor Moore touched on a variety of topics here as they closed down their respective first 82-game seasons with the organization.
Exceeding Expectations Of First Season
Speaking the day after the Kings locked up a postseason berth, Phillip Danault told the media that he definitely made the right choice in choosing the Kings in the offseason.
Danault went on to share that sentiment again following the season, noting that his first go with the Kings even exceeding his expectations coming in.
“Exceeded, for sure,” he said. “I came in and the guys took care of me right away, the organization was A1 with me, they made me as comfortable as I could be and it showed up on the ice. I really enjoyed my life here this year, my whole family was taken care of and we really appreciate that. On the ice, it went over and above what I was expecting. Very proud of this and obviously I want to get better every year, so I’ve got to keep working on my game.”
Danault came here without knowing much about the Kings as an organization, but left his first season with the club knowing substantially more.
This season saw everyone gain a lot of experience and Danault offered a positive outlook on how he believes the group can answer Todd McLellan’s message of applying that experience, not resting on it. He’s focused on how this team can continue to learn and grow, understanding that the culture has been established and now it’s about building upon it and taking it another step further.
“I learned a lot about this team,” Danault said. “When I came in, I basically knew nothing about LA. I knew they had good young guys coming up and they had a good core with Kopi, Quickie, Brownie and Dewy. I think we achieved a lot of things this year and we gained a lot of experience. It’s going to bring us far for the next few years and I think we can be really good in the years coming up. We built a culture this year and we stuck with it and where it brought us was pretty good, but we want to go further next year. A very good year overall for the team and we’re going in the right direction. The future is bright.”
Strutting The Strides
In many ways, the large contract Danault signed with the Kings in the offseason was about what he had achieved and accomplished with the Montreal Canadiens, but in others, it was about what more he could achieve in the proper role with the Kings.
Combined between regular season and playoffs, Danault scored 30 goals, second most on the Kings. Collectively, coming into the season, you’d have to go back to early-2018 to reach his last 30 goals scored in the NHL between regular season and postseason, spanning the bulk of three full campaigns. Danault knew he had more room to grow offensively and believed he could achieve that growth with the Kings, even if 30 goals was a lofty number to him back in October.
“30 goals, maybe not, but you always believe in yourself,” he said. “I knew I had the offensive side, but sometimes you just need somebody to believe in you and that’s what happened here. Blakey approached me, he signed me, he believed in me and I gave it all on the ice and I got rewarded. I showed myself, and people, that I can score goals and make a difference in another way.”
Danault’s experience as a whole, beyond just his goals scored, was transformative from Montreal to Los Angeles.
He certainly appreciated how the culture and mentality in Montreal helped him to grow as a player, but he also really appreciated the culture here in LA. He felt more free as a player and a person with the Kings, and believed that peace allowed him to excel on the ice.
“It’s definitely different, but I like it,” he said. “It’s more peaceful, you can breathe a little bit better. A Canadian market has more pressure, they’re looking at every little mistake or detail you’re not doing, but that made me the player I am today. It was good to be there, but it’s also good to be a little bit more freer, do different things on the ice and just play. I loved it.”
Now, is it Danault’s turn to be the hype man for others to come join him during free agency this summer?
“Oh, I would love it,” he said with a smile. “I think we can do some damage very soon and I think this is going to be an attractive place to be.”
The Kings entered the season with three established captains – Anze Kopitar wearing the “C” and the pair of Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty wearing an “A”. Naturally, Kopitar played the entire season and even if he didn’t, the “C” wouldn’t have been redistributed, sans Game 82 for Brown, but Doughty and Brown each had extended absences, which put letters on players such as Danault and Alex Iafallo down the stretch, expanding the public-facing leadership group.
With Doughty ruled out for the season, including the playoffs, Danault found himself wearing a letter during the first-round series versus Edmonton, a public display of the internal leadership he’s brought to the group.
Todd McLellan praised those leadership skills throughout the season and wearing the formal letter was something that carried a lot of meaning for Danault personally.
“Yeah, the ‘A’ for me meant a lot,” he said. “I told Blakey too, thanks for believing in me. It just shows exactly what they were thinking of me, the leadership, the energy, the experience. To put an ‘A’ on my jersey, I was very proud to wear it every night. I want to make a difference every night for my team, in a good way and every year, I want to do a little bit more.”
A difference made, indeed.
Trevor Moore had zero points in October, two points in November and five points in December. He entered the new year with a whopping seven, collected for the most part while playing bottom-six minutes on the team’s third and fourth lines.
Then came the switch.
16 points in January, followed by seven points from eight games in February. 18 more points from March and April gave him 41 points in the second half of the season alone, the most on the LA Kings. Despite a start to the season that was slow by his own standards, coming off a strong performance a season ago, Moore turned it on and then some in the second half, becoming an invaluable piece in the top six.
“It was a slow start, but I kind of found it later on,” Moore said. “Overall, I thought it was a good year, both myself and the team made a lot of strides. We’ve just got to keep building on that.”
Last season, Moore established himself as an NHL player, someone who provided energy every single night, on a team that often times was in need of it. Moore did the things he needed to do, which was learn to kill penalties, forecheck relentlessly and be responsible defensively, all while scoring 10 goals in a shortened season.
This season, he not only proved that his strides last season were no one-off, but he built upon his success. He became a scorer at the NHL level, while not sacrificing all of those other things he developed and brought in 2020-21.
“Trying to prove that you can score at this level, not only to other people but to yourself, is pretty important,” he said. “I think that this year I was able to show that I can do that and once you do that, you start making more plays and feeling better about yourself.”
He showed himself and he showed us all. And the Kings are much better off for it.
Second Line Success
As Herb Brooks famously said, great moments are born from great opportunity.
And that is what Trevor Moore had to begin the second half of the season. Used primarily in the bottom six until that point, as a utility player who could fill a wide-variety of roles, Moore finally got an opportunity to play as a top-six winger when he was slotted alongside Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson on New Year’s Day.
60 minutes and 4 points later, Moore was there to stay.
Todd McLellan took the brunt of the responsibility for Moore’s lack of production in the first half. The player’s versatility led the coaching staff to move him around the lineup as needed, filling holes where they surfaced and helping to jumpstart other players. When finally put in the role that he was, Moore was excited not only to play on the second line, but to play with Danault and Arvidsson specifically.
“I was just super excited to play with [Danault] and Arvy, I think that they’re just two, super good players and I was just happy to play with them,” he said. “I didn’t know if I was expecting some kind of great chemistry, it was more just like wow, these guys are really good, but the chemistry was there, which is really good.”
The regular season production was one thing, but to match it in the playoffs was another.
Moore tallied five points from seven games against Edmonton during postseason play, while Danault had five points of his own and the cumulative third man on that line, without Arvidsson, combined for six points.
“Yeah, I think that you want to be able to prove that you can play at that time of the year,” Moore added. “We obviously fell short, so it’s hard to say that was a success, but I think that, as a team and individually, we were pretty good.”
The Thousand Oakes Native
“I’m grateful, I think that’s the only word I can use.”
Always humble when speaking about himself, Moore expressed his gratitude to the local support he received all season long.
From the shirts in the team store to the social media trends to all of the love in the building, Moore was appreciative. He did not feel though, in any way, that any of those external things added any sort of pressure onto him as a player. He was thrilled to live out a childhood dream of not only playing for the Kings but playing for the Kings in the playoffs.
Though he admitted he’s happy with what he’s already done, there’s still much more to come for Thousand Oaks Native Trevor Moore.
“No pressure, just happy to be here, honestly,” he said. “I’ve already done more than I ever thought I could do, I never thought I would play for the LA Kings. If I came back next year and I was the worst player ever, I’d say that I got to live out my dream and I’d be happy about that. No pressure, just happy to be here.”
For someone who is just happy to be here, the feeling is reciprocated by his employer twice over.
We’ll wrap up these bulk articles later on today, Insiders, with a look at what Alex Iafallo, Adrian Kempe and Matt Roy had to say, before we cover the final chapter for Dustin Brown as an LA Kings player. More to come!