Continuing with comments collected from the LA Kings exit interviews this week, here’s what Adrian Kempe had to share…
On primarily playing with Anze Kopitar this season
It was great. He’s a helluva player; all three zones, all over the ice. It was nice to start playing with Kopi consistently. It builds chemistry and confidence when you stick around with the same linemate for pretty much all year. It definitely helped. You just play better overall, after time, because you know where each other are on the ice. You know where Kopi is, when I have the puck and when I don’t have the puck. It was a good feeling.
On when things changed for him, as last year coach Todd McLellan had talked about wanting to keep him off of Kopitar’s line because he deferred too much when they were together (i.e. he wanted him to shoot more)
I feel like with anybody, if you play with them consistently, after a while, you’re going to get chemistry with them. The last couple seasons, it’s been hard because I’ve been bouncing around – all kind of different lines, all kind of different positions. It’s hard when at one point, you’re trying to think about how you want to play, and then you get put on another line. Then you want to try to play different because you’re playing with certain players. I played with Kopi all year now and that builds chemistry and confidence, as well.
On finding a left wing to play on their line next season
I think we had some different wingers throughout the year that worked well. Sometimes they didn’t work out as much as we wanted it to. We had Alex [Iafallo] there pretty much all year and he was great. A great linemate; he works so hard to try and get pucks back and stuff like that. I really, really liked playing with him, as well, because you know what you get from him every night. He’s a really good team player and a hard worker.
On what the LA Kings need to do to take the next step forward, moving from a team making the playoffs into becoming a contender
We have a lot of young guys on the team; and now they have experience for what it feels like to be in the playoffs. Myself included – I have been in the playoffs before, but it wasn’t even close this year. In the end, it was a great experience for me and the young players. We’re going to get better and better throughout the years. Coming back next year, everybody’s going to be more mature and will know what it takes to get to the playoffs, how hard it is. As a team, we’re going to get better throughout the years.
On his relationship with McLellan
The relationship has been really good. He’s a very honest coach and he’s always been very honest with me – about what he thinks I’m doing well and not so well. In the first couple years, I didn’t play as consistently as I wanted to. I don’t think I played enough on a consistent line either. Other than that, this year was my best here so far. I know he’s really happy for that. Maybe it took me a little longer than I wanted it to take, but this is where I want to be. This is the type of player I want to be. Our relationship has been great. I play a lot of minutes and I know that he trusts me out there in every situation. That’s a good thing too. That builds confidence for me, as well. It’s not just about scoring and stuff. It’s also feeling that the coaches trust me out there in all situations. It’s a big key factor.
On if he wants to sign a long-term contract in LA this summer
Yes, I would.
On who among the younger players, if anybody, he’s taken aside this season to try and help mentor
No certain, specific player like that. We have a lot of young guys. There’s a lot of Swedish guys on the team too. I tried to help them when they first came to the team and stuff like that. I think all the young guys on our team have done a great job this year; in terms of playoffs and they’ve been so consistent during the year. With the amount of injuries we’ve had, especially on D, the amount of guys coming in and out of the lineup all year just did a great job. I’m really proud of them. I try to be louder now in the locker room compared to how I was a couple years ago. I think the guys like that.
On how rewarding this year was for him personally
We had a really good season, as a team. That reflected on my season, as well. A lot of guys had great seasons too – Mooresy, Phil, all those guys had great seasons too. We’re gonna need to do this again next year if we’re gonna make the playoffs. I’m gonna have to be at the same level, if not better than I was this year, if we’re going to keep building on this and take another step.
On what he’ll need to do to avoid some regression next year, and instead progress forward
Have the save mindset all year going into games; just play my ass off. Obviously, I expect to score. Playing with Kopi, I know I’m going to score. I don’t know if I’m gonna score 35 again, it’s hard to say. But that’s my goal now. I know I’m capable of doing it.
On why the Kings found more success on the road and what they can do to improve the home record next season
That’s a tough one. I feel like ever since I came here, we’ve always been a better road team. I don’t know why it’s like that. Maybe there’s more pressure to win at home, I guess. I don’t know if that reflects it. It’s a really hard question. I can’t really answer why we’re better on the road. You want to be good at home, all the time. I felt like we took a step in the right direction this year, in terms of that. That’s a good thing, though, that you can win road games too. It builds a lot of confidence in the team.
More from the team’s end of season media availability can be found in the articles linked below.
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