Sometimes it can be the quiet moves that can be the most rewarding.
As weird as it can be to say that a goaltender who stormed onto the scene with a 16-3-1 record as being quiet, that’s kind of how Pheonix Copley has conducted his business. When Kings Head Coach Todd McLellan was asked, he used the word quiet three times. He also used the word “work” three times. Both perfectly describe what Copley has come in and done for the Kings.
“I think it’s a great reward for him,” McLellan said this morning. “He joined the group and played right away. He got into a game, he played and won, quietly went about his work, came back and did it again and he’s got 16 or 17 wins now. He just quietly goes about his work, comes back and does it again, that’s Pheonix in a nutshell. He just shows up and works. He looks to get better, he provides a calming influence for the group and quietly goes about doing it.”
It’s actually pretty incredible that a goaltender posting a 16-3-1 record to start his NHL season hasn’t been yelled a bit louder, but the Kings locked that individual in on Friday for another season with a reasonable salary cap hit of $1.5 million. Copley signed with the Kings over the summer with the expectation being, at the time, that he would be the organization’s third goaltender.
Or so we all thought.
Copley had some experience at the NHL level, even if he wasn’t necessarily someone you’d consider to be a longstanding veteran. He’d proven he could play and find success in this league, though he’d really only had one, extended opportunity in order to showcase it.
Now, he’s 21 games into his career with the LA Kings and he’s lost just three games in regulation. Perhaps all it’s taken was an opportunity to “quietly go about his work” and Copley has taken that opportunity and run with it. He never looked at his situation as anything more than looking for an opportunity to showcase what he could do and running with it. He’s certainly done that.
“My mindset was just to try and earn an opportunity and see where it took me,” Copley said. “I’ve always had the confidence that I can win games at this level and it’s hard to get an opportunity, so that’s what was in my mind, just working for an opportunity. Once that came, just see what would happen and do my best to make the most of it.”
Copley touched on his decision to sign an extension with the Kings, as well as how the process unfolded from his point of view. His situation was unique in that he was recalled as a goaltender and stepped in fairly quickly. He felt a good fit for both himself and the team right away and it sounds as if the organization agrees, with conversations of an extension dating back to December, which was the month in which he made his Kings debut. Good stuff all around, with Copley now locked in for another season at a more than reasonable cap hit for the organization. A little-to-no risk move for the Kings and a nice reward for the player.
On his excitement to be re-signing with the Kings
I’m obviously really excited about it. This is a great organization that’s doing the right things. They’ve got a good culture where everyone wants to win and you can tell from top to bottom, everyone’s trying to win. That’s a place that I want to be a part of and that’s something I want to play a part in. I was very excited when they came to me and I’m very happy to get that done.
On the process of the extension and his involvement
[It kind of started] in December. It was kind of a long process and I don’t know, I let my agent handle most of that stuff and he communicates to me what they’re thinking and we just kind of went from there. From the beginning, this was a place where I wanted be, to come back. Like I said, everyone’s trying to win, everyone’s trying to go in the right direction. You just feel it and that’s what you want to be a part of.
On when he felt like the Kings were a good fit for him
Yeah, right away. Things were going well and I felt like this a place where I was able to play my game and working with Billy [Ranford] has been awesome, working with Matty [Millar] in Ontario helped me a lot as well. That’s big, having coaches that complement my game. With Billy, he’s unique in that he kind of lets us work through things ourselves. He gives us what we need with video and on-ice, but he lets us work through things ourselves, which has helped me to grow as a goalie. That’s been a good thing for me.
While we’re talking transactions approaching the trade deadline, McLellan followed up on his comments from yesterday’s post-game press conference with another thought on players and the trade deadline. Naturally, the transaction involving Copley was an internal extension, so he wasn’t a player added to the group, though the does offer some clarity for the team’s plans both this and next season. McLellan noted that when it comes to speculation involving external players or trades, those conversations do make their way into the locker room, the players and coaches know, but he reinforced that he’s happy with the group he has right now. From there, whatever happens, happens.
“I think that players hear these things,” he said. “They may say I don’t read the newspapers, I don’t listen to the TV or anything like that, but they hear things, they’re on social media. Everybody wants to get better, but as I said last night, we like the team we have, we like the team that we’ve built, we like the chemistry that we have. If we can make it better and it works out then great and if not, then we’ll be just fine with the group that we have.”
– The Kings assigned defenseman Jacob Moverare to AHL-Ontario this morning. Nothing related to any sort of trade, but your usual cap savings maneuver the Kings regularly make on days in which they don’t need an extra body.
– Forward Gabe Vilardi skated in a regular, gray jersey during today’s practice. Vilardi will not play tomorrow against Buffalo, but he’s getting closer. The Kings will have to make a lineup decision when it comes to working Vilardi back in, though that appears to be at least five days off with the team off until Friday after the Buffalo game.
– Really nice media availability with Dustin Brown from last night, will share that content later on this week. No spoilers!
That’s all that’s planned for today, Insiders. See if anything changes. If not, McLellan likes the Chiefs today, as they’ve been there before!