LA Kings LW Prospect Andy Andreoff Didn’t Let New Year’s Eve Incident Derail His Season, Or His Development
July 6, 2013 13 Comments
DEVELOPMENT CAMP COVERAGE: Frozen Royalty begins its coverage of the Los Angeles Kings 2013 Development Camp with a story on 2011 third round draft pick Andy Andreoff, a left wing prospect who recently took the time to speak exclusively with Frozen Royalty.
LOS ANGELES — When left wing Andy Andreoff was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round (80th overall) of the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft, they saw a player who possessed some surprising offensive skills for a rugged, gritty physical forward with a mean streak.
Indeed, the 6-1, 201 pound native of Pickering, Ontario is built a bit like the proverbial fireplug, but it was that combination of attributes that caught the eyes of Kings scouts when he was with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League.
Frozen Royalty recently caught up with Andreoff for an exclusive interview to talk about his development and his first full season with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League (Kings’ primary minor league affiliate) this past season.
Andreoff, 22, ended the 2012-13 regular season scoring 13 goals and adding 13 assists for 26 points, with a +1 plus/minus rating, and a team-leading 111 penalty minutes in 69 games. In the playoffs, he recorded three assists with a +2 rating in four games.
Andreoff indicated that he improved as the season wore on, and as a result, he got more and more ice time, especially once right wing Tyler Toffoli made his way to the Kings to stay.
“I think [my ice time] picked up a bit,” said Andreoff. “The [end of] the lockout helped a little bit. I got a little more ice time, playing with Linden Vey and Tanner Pearson. I think we connected well, and [Monarchs head coach] Mark Morris gave me a bit more of an opportunity to play on the power play and the penalty-kill. Things have picked up for me.”
“I was playing in a checking role on the third and fourth lines before, which I liked a lot,” added Andreoff. “I was playing with Richard Clune (now with the Nashville Predators) and a couple of other guys. I was just playing my role, and everything was going well. Later, I was getting a little more ice time, and Mark was giving me more opportunities, a little bit more ice time on special teams.”
Morris noted Andreoff’s increased role, based on improved play.
“Andy got better throughout the year,” Morris told Frozen Royalty in an exclusive interview. “His role increased, he was able to do everything from kill penalties, to playing in front of the net on the power play, to playing at center, and on left wing.”
Morris also took note of Andreoff’s ability to back up his physical play, but emphasized that he can do that and still make plays, something that not many tough guys in hockey are capable of.
“There aren’t too many guys in the league who want to mess with him,” Morris noted. “He plays the game with an edge, and he can still play. A guy who he kind of reminds me of is [big, tough Minnesota Wild center] Zenon Konopka. He’s got that same snarl to his game, but he can stick handle, he can win a face-off, he can win a puck battle. If you want to dance, he can dance.”
“I’ll never forget the fight he had in Worcester this year, when he fought a real tough guy,” Morris added. “He popped the guy. Then, he turned and looked at the bench, and hollered, like he was so exhilarated. The look on his face—it’s a moment that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.”
“He was enjoying himself. He was having fun doing it. There aren’t a whole lot of guys who have a switch like that, where they’re doing a tough job, and he was loving life.”
On December 31, 2012—New Year’s Eve, a date when most people are celebrating, Andreoff was definitely not loving life, not after elbowing Worcester Sharks left wing Curt Gogol in the head from behind, at 12:55 of the second period, in a game at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester.
On the play, Andreoff was skating back to the Monarchs bench when the two met in the neutral zone.
“He ended up falling really bad,” said Andreoff. “I didn’t even realize my elbow was up. I just ran into him. He spun in a weird way, and ended up getting hurt badly.”
Gogol left the ice on a stretcher, and was taken to a local hospital, while Andreoff received a match penalty (deliberate attempt to injure).
“I felt terrible about what happened,” said Andreoff. “I really didn’t mean to do that at all, and it turned out to be really bad.”
The hit was indeed very dangerous, and could have resulted in a very serious injury. Fortunately, Gogol was not seriously injured, and was released from the hospital that same night.
After the game, Worcester head coach Ron Sommer was reportedly incensed, but had no comment.
Often times, in these kinds of incidents, the head coach of the guilty player will at least try to soften the blow, or even defend his player’s actions. But there was no defense for this hit, and Morris did not even try. In fact, he was somewhat critical of Andreoff.
“It’s not something we condone, that’s for sure,” Morris told the Manchester Union Leader. “We hope their player is fine. It’s not the way we want to be represented.”
Days later, Andreoff was suspended by the AHL for three games.
“You can’t be doing that kind of stuff,” Morris told Frozen Royalty. “You don’t want to have that kind of reputation. Nobody likes to see anybody hurt, and I’ll bet [Andreoff] feels the same way.”
He apparently does.
“I felt awful for a long time, but I’m glad Gogol was fine after that,” said Andreoff. “He’s recovered, and he’s back to playing now.”
Although he left his player out there to take his lumps, Morris insisted that Andreoff is not a dirty player.
“He’s an honest player,” Morris emphasized. “Those things happen in hockey, and he’s a good, honest player. Guys who go into the fray, and guys who try to play physical will get into sticky situations. I don’t think that was characteristic of him at all. He’s not a cheap player. He’s an honest hockey player.”
“It’s an emotional game,” Morris added. “In the heat of battle, sometimes you do things that you wish you didn’t. He’s one of those guys who really likes to be involved, and if he can help his team to be a tougher team, he has no problem sticking his nose into tough situations.”
“It was probably the heat of the moment, and he got too excited. If you look at another player who plays with an edge, and jumps into the fray, sometimes their emotions get a little too rambunctious. I’m sure, at that point in time, he wasn’t thinking, but Andy’s a good, honest, solid hockey player. I wouldn’t let that cloud anybody’s image of him.”
Incidents like this one can be a big blow to a young player’s mental game, derailing their development, in some cases, for a short time, in other cases, permanently. But Andreoff does not appear to have suffered any ill effects.
“He just returned to being the player he has been for us,” said Morris. “He’s been pretty consistent. If he can improve his quickness—again, a lot of the things we keep referring to are worked on during the off-season.”
“His reaction time is improving,” added Morris. “I think that things happen at a real fast pace with these guys, and he’s in that same boat. There are times when he’s real sharp, and there are times when he’s watching things unfold, and recognizing, a split second after the fact, and then realizing, ‘I should’ve had’em.’”
Andreoff’s first step and his skating have been something the Kings have wanted him to work on since he was drafted.
“They’ve been pointing at my first three steps, and my skating—just getting a little quicker to adjust to the next level,” Andreoff noted. “I’ve been working on that with [Monarchs] assistant coach Freddy Meyer after practice, so I’ve been improving on it.”
“I can only get better from here, so I just have to keep working on that after practice, and during the summer, so I can get to the next level,” Andreoff added.
Being stronger in puck battles along the boards and in the corners is another area the Kings are looking for improvement, and Andreoff has been working on this part of his game as well.
“I work on that a lot in practice, actually,” he explained. “It’s a big thing for the role that I play. L.A. is big on winning the puck battles in the corners and the wall play in your own zone, so I think that’s huge for me to be the best at that job, and be really good with the puck in the corners and along the walls.”
Off the ice, his first year of professional hockey was a bit of an eye-opener.
“I was living with billet [families] the last five years in junior,” said Andreoff. “Living on my own was a bit of a challenge—making my own food every day, and living on your own, you have to take responsibility for everything you do. You have to become a pro, and act like one up here.”
Cooking was quite the challenge for Andreoff, who was in quite the rut back in December 2012, when he last spoke with Frozen Royalty.
At the time, Andreoff’s repertoire in the kitchen was limited to one dish: steak and green peppers, while roommate Tanner Pearson was able to cook several different dishes, mostly healthy entrees.
Andreoff indicated that things have improved.
“[My cooking has] gotten a little bit better,” he said. “I’m learning more and more. The guys in my apartment building all help me out.”
Monarchs players who live in the same building include Marc André Cliche, Brian O’Neill and Jordan Weal.
“We all cook together sometimes, before games.”
Heading back onto the ice, if you’re wondering when you might see Andreoff in a Kings’ jersey, it is not likely to happen soon, but you never know…
“It’s all about opportunity, and [the Kings are] a very deep team,” Kings Co-Director of Amateur Scouting Mark Yanetti told KingsVision. “Guys like Andreoff bring a certain skill set that’s valued, and you never know if a fourth line role opens up before a second line role.”
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