Here’s the second installment of Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s post-season meeting with reporters, two days after the team was eliminated from the Western Conference finals by the Chicago Blackhawks:
Question: It seems this was a tougher coaching job for you this year because you didn’t have the consistency of the lineup, you started out without Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene …
Answer: “I think if we go down the league, every coach will say that through a 48-game schedule. It’s something I’ve done before, so you have some familiarity with it. Whether it helps or not, I don’t know. But at least you’re familiar with it. Was it tougher? Sure, it was tougher, because … Our players were awesome. There was no hangover. There was only positives taken from it. Obviously, the only negative from a short summer last year was the guys didn’t start the year. Greene, Mitchell, (Anze) Kopitar and, quite honestly, Jonathan (Quick) until probably January or February.”
Q: How would characterize the year Drew Doughty had?
A: “I think he had a good year. Had a really good season. You can’t minimize the fact that our goal-scoring went up and our goals-against went up also. What we want to do as a team is cut our goals-against a little bit. Is that a reflection on Drew Doughty? Not really. It’s a reflection of our team.”
Q: The younger guys like (Tyler) Toffoli, (Jake) Muzzin and even (Tanner) Pearson, who would have played more, what are they going to take away from this season?
A: “They’re going to have to take a 100 days of getting stronger athletes, the next 100 days. For them to help us next year, they’re going to have to be better athletes. Very simple. They’re boys who need to cover up a lot and boys, what they take from it, we’re going to find out. It’s not something you can generalize. I know for certain, you have to be physically and mentally as close to 100 percent as you can to play in the National Hockey League. There’s not much line to draw there. … Count the days. Start getting ready. I started getting ready on the plane ride home.”
Q: Have you starting thinking about next season already?
A: “That’s what I said.”
Q: Do you still plan with Toffoli to see if he can get acclimated to the left side?
A: “The plan is to get him stronger first. Then we can see if he can be a winger in the American Hockey League or a winger in the National Hockey League.”
Q: When you say stronger, do you mean brute strength or cardio?
A: “It’s everything. There’s no brute strength in the National Hockey League. It’s the core and the whole package.”