BETWEEN THE PIPES WITH JASON LaBARBERA
Coming to the Kings this season, I had some expectations. The area is beautiful. Obviously, I expected that, but I didn't really know how great it was going to be. Anybody who lives here, all the players who live here will tell you it's a great place to live and a great place to play hockey. It's kind of weird not having snow here, it's not really hockey weather, but it makes it easier on you when you get up in the morning and see the sun out every day.
I had a pretty good sense of comfort this year. When I was in the Rangers organization, I was up-and-down but I don't really think that I was ready to be in the NHL at that time. Even though I struggled at times this year, I feel like I'm definitely capable of playing here and contributing to this organization. I think I have a lot to give. Like I said, I struggled at times this season, but hopefully I can build off of what I've learned and go into the summer and work on my game and get better.
The biggest difference for me on the ice from the start of the year to the end was my confidence. At the beginning of the year, I was playing a lot more and I was confident and feeling good about myself. But for whatever reason, it just kind of escaped me and I forgot how to feel good about myself on the ice and how to play the game. It's kind of a tricky thing sometimes and you have to convince yourself that you are good and you are capable of playing here. It's tough sometimes when you doubt yourself but I hope I learn from that and build off that.
With the season finished, I'm going to take some time off for a couple of weeks and then get back to training. I definitely need to become more explosive and get more strength in my legs. This level is so fast and so high-paced, especially now with the new rules. Everything happens so fast, so your core and your legs really have to be a lot more explosive. I think that's something I have to work on. Basically I just have to get back on the ice and fine-tune my game. I think I let my game get away from me a little this year and got a little sloppy, so I have to get back and become sharp.
As for off the ice, I'm probably going to stick around here for a bit and enjoy the area for a while. There's so much here to do. It's sunny almost every day and it's almost summertime now. I'll probably stick around here, then go back to my home in Calgary and start training there. And do a lot of golfing, I hope.