From a journalism standpoint, I hope Thomas Hickey, the Kings’ first-round pick last month, makes it big in the NHL. He’s incredibly bright and well-spoken and a very nice kid. And “kid” is the operative word when you see him on the ice. He looks small, but you have to remember that he’s 18 and skating next to guys such as Jack Johnson, who is two years older and had two years in a top NCAA program, and Brian Boyle, who is just an all-around monster.
Here’s the Hickey interview from this morning…
Q: Have you even starting thinking about a contract yet?
A: We’re going through that process right now. I’m more worried about just developing at camp right now, and when it’s time I’ll take a stronger look at that.
Q: Right after the draft, you were surprised to be picked that high. Has it settled in a little bit?
A: I think it has. The biggest thing that’s been encouraging to me is that they showed me that they made that pick for a reason and they’re happy about it. To me, that sort of brought down the whole surprise factor, because they knew what they wanted. There’s still a little bit of surprise but it’s starting to set in. It’s a mutual feeling. They’re happy to have me and I’m really happy to be here.
Q: They’ve already thrown you in with some of the big boys here. What do you hope to get out of this week?
A: That’s good. It’s a good starting point. If you’re going to go into a NHL training camp, you might be a little bit intimidated of those guys from the start, so I think it’s a good feeling-out period with these guys. They’re still older, and I’ll get to know some of these guys. They will be guys that I might see down the road as we all work toward being part of the organization. So I’m happy I can come in with this group.
Q: Do you go in thinking that you’ll probably play another year of juniors?
A: It’s not really a decision that’s up to me. I just worry about what I do on the ice. As far as those decisions go, they’re not really in my hands. I’ll just go out and play. Realistically, you look at that, at going back, but right now I’m just here to play. I’m not worried about next season. It’s just about developing in camp.
Q: Last season, the second half is when you really seemed to take off. Is that how you saw it, and what made the difference?
A: Yeah, that’s how I saw it too. I had a stronger emphasis on defense at the start of the season. Once I really got a feel for that, it was right around when Christmas rolled around. From then on, I could incorporate both the offensive and defensive parts of my game, and really take off on the offensive side. That’s the strongest part of my game and I think it showed, and that’s why people focused on that.
Q: What’s the reaction been like at home since the draft?
A: It’s pretty cool. I know all my friends and family are proud of me, but at the same time I realize that it’s not really an accomplishment. It’s more of an acknowledgment. So there’s a lot of work to do and I’m well aware of that.