VIDEO: Watch video of Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter’s media interview after practice on March 17, when he talked about goaltender Jonathan Quick’s workload, and whether or not Quick is an elite goaltender.
LOS ANGELES AND EL SEGUNDO, CA — When a player scores his first National Hockey League goal, excitement extends from the ice to the players bench, into the stands, and even up to the press box, where the media are all abuzz, knowing how special a milestone this is for any player, and that it usually makes for a good story.
On the play, winger Jordan Nolan fought off a check in the left corner. Gaining separation from his man, he spun, and passed across the low slot to Andreoff, who was parked below the right circle for a tap-in goal.
“I saw Nolan win a battle in the corner there, and he’s a good playmaker, so I knew he’d either put it in, or give it to me, and he gave it to me for a back door tap-in,” said Andreoff. “Nolan made a great play to me for a tap-in. I was happy that our line played well tonight.”
On Andreoff’s shot, the puck slid under Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith’s left leg pad and into the net. But that wasn’t what Andreoff had in mind—he partially fanned on the shot.
“Yeah, I might’ve been trying to go top shelf there, but whatever,” Andreoff admitted, with a huge grin. “But I’ll take one off the shin pad, off my butt—it doesn’t matter, as long as it goes in.”
Even Smith noticed.
“I was walking out with Mike Smith after the game, and he said he fanned on it,” said Kings head coach Darryl Sutter. “He said we had a lot better chances than that. That one fanned.”
After the game, Andreoff talked about the milestone.
“I kinda blacked out [after scoring the goal],” he said. “I couldn’t hear anything. I was just shocked. I definitely got the monkey off my back. I was definitely relieved to finally get it.”
“It’s a dream come true,” he added. “Everyone wants to get their first NHL goal. I’ve worked pretty hard to get where I am, so I’m glad I got it.”
Andreoff’s thoughts then turned to his teammates.
“I think everyone was pretty happy for me…all the guys congratulated me,” he said.
Then there was the predictable flood of text messages from family and friends.
“I got a lot of text messages from family and friends, congratulating me,” Andreoff said after practice on March 17. “They all stay up late to watch my games, and everyone said they were so happy for me.”
“I called my parents at 2:00 [on Tuesday] morning,” added Andreoff.
After the game, when asked for his thoughts about Andreoff scoring his first goal, Sutter, as usual, was unimpressed.
“Yeah, obviously [it is nice to see],” said Sutter. “Not many players get a chance to play in the National Hockey League, let alone score a goal, so good for him. Hope he’s got a lot more game-winners left in him.”
The next day, after practice, Sutter’s tune turned a bit more ornery.
“I don’t put a whole lot of emphasis on someone who’s scored their first [NHL goal],” he said. “Hopefully, they can figure out how to play on a good team and score a few more than that.”
This season, Andreoff has played in just 15 games with the Kings, with his goal against the Coyotes being his only point this season, to go along with a -1 plus/minus rating and 15 penalty minutes.
“It’s been a tough year, but I’ve learned a lot, and I’m trying to stay positive, working hard every day in practice, trying to get better and be ready,” said the 6-1, 206-pound native of Pickering, Ontario, who was selected by the Kings in the third round (80th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. “But yeah, there’s been some tough times this year where I’ve been down, disappointed about my situation.”
“Even though I’ve been in a situation before where I sat out a lot, during my first year in [Canadian major] junior [hockey], you want to be out there, so it’s really hard to be watching and not playing,” added Andreoff. “But adversity is part of the game, especially for a young player. You just have to be patient, stay positive, work though it, and learn from it.”
As reported in this space in earlier stories (see below), Andreoff’s first step and his skating continue to be parts of his game that the Kings want him to work on the most.
“I’m still focused on improving my first, quick step and my skating,” Andreoff noted. “That’s always been something I’ve had to work on, and I still need to get better at it. Everyone is so fast at this level. I need to be able to compete.”
Yours truly attempted to ask Sutter about Andreoff’s development and improvement this season, and how he has handled the adversity of not being in the lineup often. But before I could finish asking the question, Sutter cut me off.
“He’s played enough,” Sutter emphasized. “He played every pre-season game, played 15 games here, played seven in the American league. He’s played enough.”
“You know what? We’re trying to win,” Sutter added. “We’re not here to say, ‘oh, he’s a nice guy,’ or, ‘oh, he scored a goal.’ We’re trying to win. Quite honest, there’s a lot of organizations [where] he would’ve played 65 games in the American league already.”
Sutter has proven to be extremely reticent to offer praise of a young player, no matter what, and that is probably an understatement of epic proportions. Indeed, he chooses to try to motivate the player by challenging him via criticism through the media, and he was no different regarding Andreoff.
“He’d say he’s had a tough year, but I wish someone would pay me $700,000 to break a sweat for an hour a day,” Sutter said, bluntly. “I don’t think it’s tough here. He should be very thankful that he’s in the environment that he’s in.”
Post-Practice Interview, March 17, 2015 via FrozenRoyaltyNHL on YouTube
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