Despite playing on the LA Kings third pairing, Sean Walker is ready to be a leader on defense, stating he would like to be dominant in the defensive zone.
For years, the LA Kings have thrived on defense. While recent years only saw the club make a couple of playoff appearances, a strong defensive corps is an area where the Kings have restored confidence. Among those members is Keswick, Ontario native, Sean Walker.
Entering his third season with the LA Kings, Walker has established himself as an invaluable member of the team’s defense and is eager to solidify himself as one of his club’s top veterans.
Walker spoke with the media on Tuesday, where he discussed taking on more of a leadership role. The blueliner also touched on what can be done to improve overall as a player, which includes more focus on his defensive game.
“The D-zone is something that I’ve been trying to focus on ever since I turned pro,” Walker said. “So, last year, I think I made some steps in the right direction and hopefully can continue that this year and be dominant in the D-zone.”
Since 2020-21 will only mark his third — and second full — season in the NHL, it may be a bit of a stretch to refer to Walker as a veteran. Nevertheless, the 26-year-old certainly has a fair deal of experience under his belt, and with younger blueliners joining the team, Walker is eager to be a mentor to the LA Kings’ less-experienced defensemen.
“You kind of look, there’s a group of us that are kind of in that range that we’re kind of in our second, third year, but kind of older than some of the young guys,” the defenseman explained. “So, it’ll be a good gap between the young guys and the older guys. So, lots of communication between everybody and it should work well.”
Walker was later asked what he needed to change, or adjust, in his attitude to become a more effective leader.
“I think it’s just kind of being more comfortable to ask questions or questioning things if you’re not too sure about some things,” noted the Bowling Green State alum. “Just kind of have that bridge between the young guys and the older guys and if there’s something they want to come ask me or if I need to ask them something, it’s something that we have to be comfortable with doing with one another. So, I think that’s something that just kind of has to be there in that position.”
Speaking of Bowling Green State, the LA Kings blueliner admitted that he had plenty of leadership practice between 2013 and 2017 when he suited up for his alma mater.
“I was a captain in my junior year, so there was obviously a senior class above me,” Walker said. “So, I thought that was a good position for me to kind of learn and develop in those areas. So, I think that helped me a lot and it should help me in this position that I’m in now.”
While Drew Doughty has been the unofficial leader of their defensive corps for a number of years now, the LA Kings are doing their due diligence in adding more leadership on the blue line. While this off-season’s acquisition of veteran Olli Maatta has definitely helped strengthen the back end’s leadership muscle, if you will, Matt Roy has also added his own leadership qualities to the corp. Even the less experienced members of the LA Kings blueline, such as Mikey Anderson, learned a bit from the since-traded Alec Martinez last season. But, with a new season and being another year older, it is time for Sean Walker to develop his own craft as a leader.
Regardless if the LA Kings make the playoffs this season or not, Walker’s expertise will certainly help point his club in the right direction, making them better and more seasoned for the short- and even long-term future.