LA Kings head coach Todd McLellan spoke with the media after the team’s intrasquad scrimmage at Staples Center on Saturday afternoon.
LA Kings head coach Todd McLellan spoke with the media following the team’s intrasquad scrimmage at Staples Center. Here’s what he said.
On any players that stood out
Well, I thought Luff/Grundstrom, two players that we’ve had our eye on and expected a lot from coming into training camp had good days. They’ve just carried over from training camp. They were effective in the scrimmage in a number of different areas, whether it was along the boards around the net, making plays, and were trustworthy on the ice. So those two, in particular, we kept a close eye on, and they did a good job.
On if the players unfit to play were out with COVID
I just have to tell you that those players were unfit to play.
On whether Thursday’s opener could be in jeopardy
Not now. I have no indication of that at all. All right. We’re not concerned about it at this point.
On managing the depth of the team during a pandemic
One of the good news is that a lot of the players are involved in training camp right now — been in the organization for a while. So they, they have been playing the system that we want to put in place, whether it’s here with the club in the National Hockey League or at the American Hockey League level. So they should be, we should be able to plug players in, they should understand why and how we’re doing things.
They should be chomping at the bit to get that opportunity and to take advantage of it. So we think we have hungry players in that situation. And over the past few years, we’ve tried to build as much depth in the prospect pool as possible. So we’ve done a good job of that, which I believe we have, we should have some players that are ready to step in when they’re called upon.
And you know, it’s not a case of hurrying players than it’s a case of opportunities being created for circumstances out of our control, and they step in and play. When we’re playing against somebody and they’re in a situation where they’ve lost players we’ve got to find a way to take advantage of it but in our case, we’ll be able to fill the holes.
On Jeff Carter’s solid game during the scrimmage
He’s been tremendous throughout. His repair that he had over the summer has really allowed him to skate and he looks calm. I think Carts is really enjoying the game and having fun, it’s so much better. And throughout training camp, we’ve seen that he’s excited about being back. He’s excited about being around his teammates. He has gelled well with Lizotte and any winger that we put there, both Wagner and Athanasiou right now so let’s hope this carries over for the next four months.
On Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s game
JAD had a good night — very responsible player. I think he’s giving himself permission now or a little bit more now to take the odd chance and create offensively, I saw more offense out of him today which was fine. And it wasn’t at the cost of defending. He’s a really solid checker, is responsible, and he’s on the ice, so he’s becoming more of a well-rounded player. And we’re happy with that.
On the thought process of moving Austin Wagner (or any player) from the left wing to the right wing
Yeah, there’s, there is thought that goes into it. And you know, for some individuals, they’re capable of picking it up quickly — others have trouble with it. The most difficult areas are along the boards. Obviously, you’re receiving the puck on your backhand, but the way Wags can skate, and his ability to drive outside, we think that his speeds are a factor from the off wing where you can protect pucks and, and drive them to the net. So there’s pros and cons with both of it, with both sides of it. And certainly, it’s something you’ll have to get used to, it’ll just take a little time, but we feel he’s capable of doing it.
More about the five players who were deemed unfit to play in the scrimmage
Well, the players that didn’t play today were deemed unfit to play. And we’re gonna have to be prepared for that throughout the season, whether it’s now, three months from now, four months from now, that can pop up at any time. And we quickly have to shuffle some lines — balance the teams out. And some individuals play maybe more than they would have otherwise, but when those unfit to play guys leave, that creates opportunity for others. And today was a good day. Some individuals had real good, good scrimmages, or intrasquad game, if you will, and give us a chance to look at them.
On the change of venue playing at Staples Center
We’re happy with the overall play, guys played hard, they played with structure. It was a competitive game, we saw some special teams that we needed to see — had real live officials involved in the game. So faceoffs became more of a factor. So everything about the game was really good. As far as the environment goes, it’s definitely different. I can tell you, we’re gonna miss our fans.
Certainly, the energy that they’re able to provide us in the building helps, but it won’t be an excuse, because every team is going to experience the same atmosphere in their home rinks. What is new for us, maybe that isn’t new for other teams, is we weren’t in that bubble and didn’t get to experience. So today was certainly different. The rules, regulations, whatever you want to call them in and around the Staples Center, it’s a different world than what we’re used to. So I’m glad that we came down and got it out of the way.
On coaching without fans in the building
Well, certainly we’re not fighting the crowd noise and, and having to yell and scream on the bench. But you know, other than that, I think once the play started from a coaching perspective, our minds were on what was going on on the ice. Quite frankly, when the game is going on, you don’t necessarily notice the music. There’s background noise and it can get real loud but you don’t see the fans doing the wave or whatever they’re doing.
Your focus is so much on the game and what’s coming next. I didn’t feel much of a difference in those situations when I was on the bench today. But whistle goes, timeout you look around and it’s empty. It’s a building. It’s quiet. You can hear the skate blades a lot more — the stopping, the starting, sticks coming together pucks off the glass, players talking on the ice. It’s much more clear than it would be with 20,000 fans at Staples Center.
On shaking off the rust ahead of Thursday’s opener
It was good. It wasn’t as it will be on Thursday you know the results didn’t have your palms sweaty because no one was going to win or lose today it was more about evaluating and I spent time going from bench to bench on both sides so that I could spend a little time on both sides. I also went up and watched it from up above to see what it would look like, so obviously, when Minnesota comes to town, that’s not going to happen. It’s going to feel a lot different.
On how soon he became aware of the five players who were unfit
Yeah, so we were aware of a few of them yesterday and another one or two this morning. So you know the scramble part we’re prepared for. We’re ready to go, to move players around. And we expect to have these bumps in the road as we go forward. And there’s nothing that’s going to be normal about this season. So we have to be ready to ready to roll.
On how this impacts roster decisions
And I can’t even fairly answer that. If I began to, I might give you the wrong information. We’ll get a chance to regroup tomorrow and evaluate where we’re at as an organization with unfit players and injured players on the roster. So right now that’s a really hard question for me to answer.