Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell couldn’t say Wednesday whether he would play in Friday’s exhibition against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. He couldn’t say exactly when he might pull on a Kings sweater. What he could say was that he’s suffered no setbacks so far in training camp, with his surgically-altered knee feeling sound. Mitchell also said it’s up to Kings coach Darryl Sutter to decide when the veteran defenseman will play his first game since the Stanley Cup Final in June 2012.
“Darryl has his plan and has kind of been sticking with that,” said Mitchell, who sat out all of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season after undergoing knee surgery last December. “I’m waiting to hear from him. It’s been good, though. As much as you want to get in there right away and want to get back in (the lineup) … you’ve just got to get back into a game and get your timing and your feel and all that back. …I’m feeling really good. I’m feeling great on the ice right now. Anxious. I don’t know. I’m guessing something will happen fairly soon. I’m looking forward to it. … It’s his decision. He’s the boss.”
Darryl Sutter made it clear he didn’t like Kyle Clifford’s approach to a second-period penalty shot during the Kings’ 6-0 victory Tuesday over the Ducks at the Honda Center. Clifford was hooked on a breakaway by Ducks defenseman Sami Vantanen, drawing a penalty shot less than two minutes into the middle period of what was then a tight game.
Clifford skated in on goaltender Viktor Fasth and shot quickly from a good distance away from the net. Fasth gloved the puck easily and the score remained 1-0 in favor the Kings. Later, the Kings’ coach expressed his displeasure with Clifford’s attempt.
“He shouldn’t shoot high glove,” Sutter said. “Might be the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. One play.”
Concealing injuries has been an NHL playoff tradition for as long as there have been postseason beards. Darryl Sutter hid an injury from the Kings players for all of last season plus the playoffs before revealing last June that he underwent a double-hernia operation performed by a robot. The coach made the announcement during a television interview. “You know how much I don’t like guys playing if they’re half injured,” Sutter said Thursday, on the opening day of training camp. “Quite honest, I’d rather they didn’t know I was hurt.”
Sutter said he was 100 percent.
“I’m good,” he said. “It feels good to feel good again. It took a while.”
In the fourth and final installment of Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s postseason session with reporters, he talks about the media’s need for news versus the team’s need for secrecy when it comes to injuries to players, especially during the playoffs. And there’s quite a bit more as Sutter wrapped up his second season as the Kings’ coach.
Question: Fans want to know who’s playing. That’s a normal curiosity.
Answer: “Yeah, it is. If they get there on time, they know who’s playing. That’s what we did as a league, right? You have seven days. If somebody goes on IR, they’re hurt. They’re out seven days. Right? I don’t understand … It’s not supposed to happen.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter met with reporters for about 20 minutes two days after the team’s playoff ouster at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks. The conversation touched on a variety of subjects, including what the Kings must improve on for next season. There also questions about the health of the team following a second consecutive lengthy playoff run. Sutter answered some questions, dodged others and acknowledged the job reporters have to do. Here’s the third part of a four-part installment.
Question: Talking about lowering the goal-against average for next season, would that be the major concern or would it be the left wing and the lack of production there?
Answer: “I said goals-against. I didn’t say production. We went from 30th to sixth in offense. We went to third in our conference. So, we’re not looking at it by position. We have multiple players who play multiple positions. If you’re listening, I did that once we know our roster then we would know better. Our goals-against, very simple, you don’t win. Teams I coach are always great defensively. We were a great defensive team again this year. But our goals-against … what you do home-and-road, there’s a disparity.”
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.”
Darryl Sutter met with reporters two days after the Kings were eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals. Here’s the first part of a multi-part quesiton-and-answer session held at the Kings’ El Segundo training facility:
Question: Have you had a chance to decompress and what are your thoughts on how the season went?
Answer: “Not really decompress, but we thought we had a really good season. It would have been harder not making the playoffs. As I told the players (the day after losing in the conference finals), we played 18 games in the playoffs this year. There’s 28 other teams that would have liked to have played 18 games. Once you’ve set that bar … As I’ve said all along, this has no bearing on anything other than you know you’re a really good hockey club and you know how close the league is. … We’ll all got to look at the team we just played and the team they’re playing to see how close the league is.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Monday he believed the 2012-13 season was a success despite falling short of playing for a second straight Stanley Cup championship. Here’s more from Sutter during his season-ending session with reporters: “We thought we had a really good season. We played 18 games in the playoffs this year. There’s 28 other teams that wished they played 18 games. This has no bearing on anything other than you know you’re a really good hockey club and you know how close the league is.”
Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter said when asked about a 4-3 victory that gave them a 2-0 lead over the San Jose Sharks in their best-of-7 second-round series: “You have to win a lot of different ways. I don’t think there’s a consistent pattern to it at all. It’s like taking tonight and going to the last game. What was the difference between tonight and last game? I didn’t like how many penalties we took. Our penalty-killing did a good job. The power play came through for us. But every game is different.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter likes center Brad Richardson’s game. He had no second thoughts about inserting him into Jarret Stoll’s spot on the third line. But since Richardson plays a position at which the Kings have an embarrassment of riches, Sutter spent most of the regular season scratching him from the lineup.