Here’s the interview I did yesterday with Patrick O’Sullivan. He discusses his experience at the World Championships this month, as well as his personal development as a player, his hopes for the Kings’ improvement and his contract situation this summer.
It’s been very interesting to watch O’Sullivan develop. I still remember watching him at his first prospects camp and thinking he had all the talent in the world, then watching him consistently go backward until he eventually landed back in the AHL. Then he started a tremendous comeback and essentially reinvented himself in the eyes of the Kings. Along the way, he’s gone from being a quiet kid to a more confident player.
Here’s the full interview with O’Sullivan…
Question: The Worlds were a great tournament for you personally but I’m sure you’re disappointed with how things ended for the team. What was that experience like for you?
O’Sullivan: It was fun. Any time you get to play for your country and play with some of these guys I’ve played with before in different tournaments, even growing up, it’s fun. It’s definitely disappointing to have it end the way it did. But we had a really young team and we can take away some positives for the future. It’s a new era for USA.
Question: How much did your previous experience at tournaments like this help you?
O’Sullivan: I played World Juniors three times and I was at the World Championships two years ago. It helps to know how things work. It’s very condensed into a couple weeks, so it helps to feel comfortable with how everything is going to be set up. It definitely makes it a lot easier.
Question: Obviously the team part of it didn’t go quite as planned, but you got some accolades for your play. Were you pleased, personally, with how you played?
O’Sullivan: Yeah, it’s just very exciting to be a part of that team and get to play in all situations. It was cool and it was great to have (Dustin Brown) there as well. It’s definitely exciting to see yourself do well at such a high level.
Question: This was something of a breakout season for you in the NHL. Did you feel like you were able to carry over that momentum into the World Championships?
O’Sullivan: I felt really good going into the tournament. I just tried to carry over the success I had during the regular season. That was pretty much it. Like I said before, knowing the format and knowing a lot of the guys and stuff like that, it makes it easier going into a tournament.
Question: Now that you’ve had a little time to reflect maybe, what are your thoughts on your season? It seemed to be a breakout year for you. Have you had time to think about it much?
O’Sullivan: It’s a good feeling, having had a little time to think about it. I’m just happy that I was able to prove some people wrong and prove what I’m capable of doing. In my mind, I feel like I can build upon the year that I had and continue to get better. It’s a pretty cool feeling to succeed at the highest level that you can possibly get to. Everyone talks about playing in the NHL when they grow up, but it’s true. I definitely felt some pressure, given the trade. In my mind, the year before didn’t go as I had wanted and as I’m sure the team expected. I didn’t know what it took to play at that level. I had zero experience at the NHL level. I had to go back to the minors and put some more time in and continue to try to work on my game. Really, what makes me the most happy is seeing where I was compared to where I am now. It’s great. It’s something that every player goes through. For some guys it takes longer and for some guys it takes less. I’m happy that everything happened the way it did.
Question: I’m sure you’re not happy with the way the team played last year and that you can elevate your play even more next year. How would you like to see things improve next season?
O’Sullivan: What we’re focused on right now — especially the young core of the team — is the fact that everyone on the team had a fairly successful year individually but. at the end of the day, that’s not what we’re trying to accomplish. We want to win and we feel like we’re going to be capable of that when some additions are made and things take care of themselves. I can speak for (Anze Kopitar) and Brownie, because I talk to them all the time. We’re not satisfied with individual success. It’s hard for everyone when the team’s not winning. That’s the obvious thing that I’d like to see next year. As far as individually, I just want to try to build on what I accomplished this year and continue to make improvements on the things I’ve been working on. For me, it’s going to be a continued process. I definitely feel like I can get a lot better in a lot of areas. I want to try to be more of a leader. It’s something that I’ve talked about with the coaches and Dean, even as a young player to be a leader and just continue to build on the success and try to get better.
Question: I know that’s been a point of emphasis for Dean, for you young guys to be respectful of the older guys but to start taking ownership of the team. It sounds like that’s in the process of happening.
O’Sullivan: Yeah. I think it is our team. With the way the team has been built, that’s just the way it is. Some people might not want to hear that, but that’s the case. It’s something that we talk about among ourselves. It’s the way it has to be, and I think our young core group of guys is ready for that challenge. We’ve had two years together, for the most part, to improve and to learn from our mistakes and try to be better players and better teammates and better leaders. It’s difficult to know and realize how much you’re relied upon. Being young guys, it’s hard sometimes to not just want to worry about yourselves. I think that’s a major thing that all of us are learning and starting to realize. I think it’s real exciting, for me, to be a part of this process that’s taking place. As a player, I can see the major steps that are happening. From the outside, sometimes it might look like it’s going slower than it actually is. The fans are showing a lot of patience and I know they’ll continue to support us.
Question: You’ve got a large segment of those fans nervous because you’re a restricted free agent this summer. How is that process coming along? Are you confident that something will get done soon?
O’Sullivan: I think that Dean is talking to my agent and they’re in conversations. As far as how close it is, I don’t really know. There’s definitely been communication and I hope it’s something that both sides can get done. It’s a long summer, but with certain dates coming up, the further it goes I’m sure they will be talking and try to get something figured out.
Question: You’re in an interesting situation, as a young guy coming off your first good year. Are you more inclined to seek a long-term deal, like the one Dustin Brown signed, or a short-term deal and then see where things are in a year or two? Do you have any particular thoughts about that?
O’Sullivan: It just really depends on everything they’re taking into consideration. It’s hard for me to say right now. It will depend on a lot of things. That’s just something that’s hard for me to answer right now. There are a lot of factors involved and a lot of things that I don’t know the answer to yet. I’d definitely like to be a part of the team for a long time. If we can keep this young core of guys together for a number of years, I think the team will have a lot of success and hopefully become a team that everyone talks about around the league. But it’s hard for me to say. I can’t really give you a number, in terms of years or anything like that.