View from the Press Box: Kelly Hrudey
The former Kings netminder fields questions on the trade deadline and Kings All-Star Jonathan Quick
Hockey fans can follow Hrudey on Twitter @KellyHrudey.
The trade deadline is one week away and there still seem to be way more buyers than sellers. How do you think this year’s deadline will play out?
I have no idea. Every year it seems like the trade deadline has its own unique flavor and I would agree with you that there are more buyers as of right now, anyway. Teams are still in contention and especially out in the East where nobody is really winning to get into the playoffs. Its like everybody’s losing and people are hanging around. I think that right now it’s hard to judge what might happen; I know that every year is different. Sometimes there is a lot of excitement around it and other times there is not really much in the way of movement that’s really significant.
Do you think the Kings will be one of the more aggressive teams at the deadline?
I don’t know about aggressive, but I think that they will certainly be looking around to see what’s available and tweaking more than anything. I really like their team. I know that goals are a big problem this year but overall I think that they’re a very strong team.
The other side of the deadline is what they player goes through. What is it like for a player to get uprooted midseason and then have the pressure to perform in a new environment with a new team?
I was traded, I think, three weeks before [the trade deadline]. The idea of being traded midseason is absolutely brutal. For anybody who’s gone through it, especially if you have a family, it’s one of the most unnerving things you’ll go through. In my particular case, I had heard rumors the day before, we had a game that night, I played versus Detroit at home with the Islanders, I was awful, I was so distracted, and the next morning I woke up to a phone call saying Mr. Torrey [New York Islanders’ General Manager] wanted to see me. He confirmed that I was being traded to Los Angeles and later that afternoon I was on a plane to LA. The part that makes it so difficult is, in my case, my wife was eight months pregnant with our second daughter and the uncertainty of when our daughter would come and all of those sorts of things. When your wife is left to do all of the things like put the house on the market, the banking, and all of those things from a family standpoint, it is really difficult to go through. I didn’t find the pressure of playing that unusual. I enjoyed that part of it; it wasn’t something that really stood out to me—just the family problems.
Goalie Jonathan Quick is having an MVP season for the Kings. In your mind, where does he rank among the best goaltenders in the league?
He is right at the top. I’m a big fan and have been for a lot of years. I’ve always thought that he carried himself like a General out there. I’ve really admired that about him—that he’s strong mentally, he’s terrific technically as well, but I think it’s his mental strength that really stands out to me. He’s one of my favorites to watch.
As good as Jonathan Quick has been, do you see areas where he can get even better and reach elite status in this league?
Well, I don’t know if I really see anything [he can improve on]. I think more than anything it’s just playoff experience, and that’s something that’s going to come. He’s got to learn how to win a round [in the playoffs] and that’s not easy. I think it’s fair to say and most people would agree that the first round is always the hardest one to win, anyway. Everybody feels they have the opportunity to go past the first round, but there’s a lot of pressure to do that with trying to meet expectations. So, that would be the only thing that he’s going to have to experience and do.
The Kings were picked by many to be a Cup contender this season but they find themselves in a race just to get into the postseason. As a veteran of several playoff runs, how does a team take that next step to go from just making the playoffs to making a deep run during the postseason?
I like what’s happening there because it’s good that they are in a battle all the time. I think that it’s safe to say that if you continue to have ups and downs, and you fight through it as a team, and everybody continues to get stronger, and you become in this together, I think it actually serves you well in the playoffs. Playoffs typically are not a smooth run. You’ll have highs and lows in every game and every series. You might find yourself down 2-1 in a series and you might be the better team and you have to find a way to be unbelievably good together in that fourth game to even up the series, then move forward that way. I just think it’s so much better to have some struggles during the season and get into the playoffs as opposed to breezing through [the season].
It’s hard to believe but one year from now the Kings organization will be celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the 1993 Stanley Cup Final vs. Montreal. Do you still think about that series and the amazing run the Kings went on to advance to the Final that year?
I do, it’s hard to imagine that much time has elapsed. Clearly, and I’m sure this is the same for all of my teammates on that team; it’s by far my most disappointing hockey memory. Nothing even comes close. I’ve had other loses that sting, but nothing quite as dramatic as that. I’ve never yet had a good thought about that series and that year. To be so close and to be up 1-0 in the series and leading Game 2 and to lose three games in a row in overtime is crushing.
Editor's Note: This is the fourth edition of "View from the Press Box." Here are the first three editions, in case you missed them. Special thanks to Jennifer Nechiporenko
• Pierre Lebrun
• Patrick O’Neal
• Bob Miller