They see me rollin'. They hatin'.
- Jul 28, 2004
After Saturday’s afternoon scrimmage, Kings Development Coach Mike Donnelly had the opportunity to share his thoughts on a handful of LA prospects and the work they’ve been putting in over the past few days. Among the names mentioned were Frankie Pinelli, Brandt Clarke, Sammy Helenius, and Martin Chromiak.
Donnelly on Jack Hughes, and if this year he’s been getting after it right from Day 1 (ed. note: this was actually a follow-up question to what Donnelly had said about Hughes on the final day of Dev Camp last summer):
I think he’s still trying to figure it out, you know? It’s a different pace we have going on right now; like today, I thought was an awesome pace. With his size and his skill set, he’s got to be able to play fast and get up to a little bit faster pace. It’s a little bit different than what they’re used to, but it’s something he’s got a work on and get better at.
On if there are any similarities to first-year camper Koehn Ziemmer and what he saw from Hughes in his initial Dev Camp:
I don’t know. I think Ziemmer is a really quiet kid and he’s shown flashes. Yeah, it’s pretty similar to how Hughes was last year. It’s different for these kids. You know, they’re traveling here, they know management’s watching. It’s not easy for these guys and I think [eventually] they start to feel more comfortable, as a group. Today, you saw the pace was higher and they’re starting to feel more comfortable. For some of them, the travel could affect them too. Some of these kids come a long way and the time changes; it’s an adjustment for them to do that. There’s a lot of things going on. We only get them for one week, so we throw a lot of information at them. We understand that, as a group [of coaches], and it’s development. We give the kids as much time as they need.
On the physicality and intensity ramping up today:
It’s hockey and it’s a game. You like to see kids that have emotion and have a little battle, so that part of it is always good to see. Even though it’s a teaching environment and we do a lot of specialty training, you still want to see the compete, you want to see the battle. I thought you saw it today. I was really excited about the way the game went today. With the power play and penalty kill, you get to see guys handle the puck a little bit more. Like I said, it was a really good day and was excited to see that part of it too.
On finding the balance of compete while not seeing guys potentially get injured:
There’s a fine line. I think Krieger hit one guy today and he came over and said, ‘Hey, I didn’t mean it.’ That’s going to happen. Obviously, you don’t want to see anybody get hurt. With some of these guys, they’re going back to college and we don’t get to see them in training camps. They’re trying to make a name for themselves too. Or there are guys who maybe would like to get a contract. So, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone really thinks about that. You know what I mean? Obviously, we don’t want to see anybody get hurt, but we want to see what they can do and how they stack up against our prospects and how hard they play.
On if there are different expectations for players like Helenius and Chromiak, given that they already have one year of pro experience under their belts:
I think it’s the same as everybody else, but we’re expecting them to make a step, right? They played in the American Hockey League, which is tough. There are some grown men in that league; the AHL is a hard league. It’s a learning experience for those boys. So, yeah, we want them to be leaders in this group, for sure, and take their game to another level.
On Clarke showing leadership potential during drills and from the bench during scrimmages:
Just knowing him, after working with him for a couple years, yeah. He reminds me, not as a player, but of Drew [Doughty]. He’s a hockey junkie. He’s on the bench, ‘This guy’s open!’ He just loves the game. He’s very competitive and he works hard. He’s kind of like how Drew is, he’s always talking and always wanting to be part of it. He’s a really good kid. He cares and he wants to get better.
On working with Jarret Stoll and all the forwards:
We’re both tag teaming [the situation]. We have 18 forwards in camp, so it’s a lot of work. There’s a lot of guys and there’s a lot of details. One thing about our Development Camp, which I believe is special, we expect our kids to get better every day. The stuff that we do with them — whether it’s on ice, or video, or the stuff we’re practicing on that specific day — we want our kids to get better and we expect them to get better. This is a great week for us, all the development guys, as far as teaching and getting to know the kids. We’re here to help them make it to the NHL. We’re trying to develop these kids to play for our team; not just to play in the league, but to play on a winning team. That’s our goal, like it has been all along; ever since we started doing this development back in 2007-2008 with Nelson Emerson, Mike O’Connell, and Dean [Lombardi]. We were developing kids not to think, ‘Hey, you’re going to be excited if you make the league.’ We want to win in the league, so there’s a difference. These fundamentals and the drills that we do, you can see what they’re good at and what they need to work at. The drills that we do and the practices we have, we’re able to establish things that are positive and the negative things that they need to work on and improve on, we’re able to address that and keep working on those things with the boys.
On seeing changes within the players even after just a few days in camp:
Our scouts do a really good job; the character these kids have. I know there’s a lot that goes into it, it’s not just trying to draft the best player. Our scouts to a really good job and we get good kids. They’re eager to learn. We have to keep them focused and it’s hard because there’s so many things going on. And the game is so complex, there’s so many things to work on. But we try to just do the basics. As far as getting them better, we want them to understand that they’re not going to remember everything. I tell them, ‘Get your phone out after each day. You should put notes in your phone, so you get reminders of what you need to work on and things that we teach.’ A lot of the stuff we teach, if they don’t learn the stuff, they’re not going to be able to play.
It’s important that they focus and that they do that. As much as we do in development, we spend so much time and energy, yet it’s up to them too. Stollie and I can give them everything, but a lot of stuff they have to learn on their own. Like Ziemmer today. There was that one play where a guy came at him and he gave him the reverse shoulder. He’s a goal scorer, but we love to see that. We teach that. It’s like Kevin Fiala, that’s how he plays. We showed him some clips of Kevin. So I think the kids, they’re learning. You can’t expect these young men to know all this stuff. So, we have to teach them and we have to show them.
That’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years. It’s like, ‘How does he not know that?’ Well, he’s 18, he’s young. We have to teach them and have to help them get better at those things. We have to identify them and show them. There’s a lot of information we cram in during the five days. It’s a process — we didn’t get Tyler Toffoli to be a great player in one Development Camp. It’s a process and you can see the progression in Frankie Pinelli and [Alex] Laferriere. You can see that those guys are sticking out. They’re feeling more comfortable, they’re getting more mature, they’re getting stronger. That whole process is starting to pay off for those guys.