As the upcoming season fast approaches, the rookie camps for all 30 NHL teams have officially opened with the Los Angeles Kings opening things at their practice facility, the Toyota Sports Center, on Thursday.
Leading the camp is Mark Morris, head coach of Los Angeles’ AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, the winningest coach in club history.
Jon Rosen of LAKingsInsider covered the first day of camp and asked Morris questions regarding messages to the participants as well as feelings on prospects Brandon Kozun, Andy Andreoff and Martin Jones.
When asked whether there has been any particular message to the rookies, Morris told Rosen,
“I think the number one message for our guys is that we want to play as a five-man unit, whether it’s offense or defense.” Morris went on to say, “You can’t take any shortcuts. You work hard and the system works great. It won us a Cup, and we’ll continue to preach that with our guys and try and put some detail and structure into their games.”
In regards to Brandon Kozun, whose progression hasn’t been as easy as the Kings organization might have hoped.
“He’s been a bit of a project for us, there’s no question about it. But that kid’s got some unbelievable skill,” Morris told Rosen. “Towards the end of last year we stuck him out there on the penalty kill. He’s grown, and he’s becoming a 200-foot player. He’s getting more pucks deep. He’s less risky. He is a special talent, and we’d miss him if we lost him.”
Afterwards, Morris was asked about Andy Andreoff and adjustments he’d have to make if he wants to make the NHL.
“Strength and quickness. I think his recognition of defensive scenarios or his ability to jump into a hole to have more urgency – and those are all natural things for young guys to learn. You’ve just got to do things quicker.”
As for restricted free agent goaltender Martin Jones who was absent at camp due to a failure to re-sign with the organization, Morris was asked whether he was disappointed that the netminder wasn’t in El Segundo taking part.
“I don’t even want to think about it. He is such a force for us, and projects to be one of the top goalies in the American League level and a guy that could probably challenge for a backup role here. I’m hopeful things work out for him,” the Monarchs head coach told Rosen. “It’s not my position. I just hope that things work out for him.”
Overall, it’s a pretty promising start to the Kings’ Rookie Camp and more is expected in the coming days as fans can see how the prospects of the club develop and discuss where they will be playing in 2013-14.