Hard Work Pays Off
The American Hockey League is a development league for the National Hockey League. As players work hard and see success in the AHL, it is only natural for their NHL parent clubs to find a roster spot for them.
The Los Angeles Kings recently recalled Manchester Monarchs left wing Dwight King and right wing Jordan Nolan. The moves were made to inject the struggling Kings offense with a new look and their styles matched perfectly with what Los Angeles Head Coach Daryl Sutter needed.
King and Nolan are both 6-foot-3 and weigh in at 234 and 227 pounds, respectively. They are physical on the forecheck and are difficult to move off the puck or out from in front of the net. They add grit to the Kings line-up but more importantly, they can finish around the net.
King and Nolan both scored their first NHL goals last Sunday against the Dallas Stars. It should come as no surprise that both goals came from around the net. King’s goal was the result of a rebound on the left doorstep. Nolan’s tally was the result of King’s forecheck along the end boards and Nolan driving to the net.
The Monarchs were watching the Kings game last Sunday and cheering on King and Nolan.
“I know when I was watching the game, I was jumping around when they were scoring,” said Monarchs defenseman Jake Muzzin.
Muzzin happens to be the roommate of both King and Nolan here in Manchester.
“It is a little lonely in the apartment but it is alright,” said Muzzin. “I have been going over to the (other) guys’ house and keeping busy. I know they have been working hard and it is nice to see them get rewarded for it and get up there (Los Angeles) and put a couple goals in.”
The Monarchs defenseman tallied an assist in 11 games with the Kings last season and was able to talk to King and Nolan before they flew out to join the team.
Muzzin’s words of advice to his roommates was “to enjoy it and continue working hard. They are there for a reason. They are good players and if they continue working hard then I see them staying there a while. I am happy for them.”
Monarchs right wing Brandon Kozun shared a similar feeling about King and Nolan’s call ups.
“It is exciting,” said Kozun. “It is cool to see those guys playing. They are both very good players. It is exciting to see some guys getting a chance.”
The call ups have affected the Monarchs line-up shuffled players around. Kozun was a linemate for King for much of the season and even spent the first few games this season on a line with Nolan.
“It is a little different but I am playing with two very good players right now, Robbie Czarnik and Linden Vey,” stated Kozun. “We are working hard every game and seem to be clicking pretty well. It is good to play with those guys. We open up space for each other.”
Other Monarchs have been asked to play a position they are not used to and have helped relieve the pressure for the team to produce offensively. Defensemen Patrick Mullen and Nick Deslauriers have played up front as wingers forwards rather than their listed position on defense.
“There is obviously pressure when two of your key guys get called up,” reasoned Kozun. “Other guys have to step up and/or guys are playing roles they usually wouldn’t. It is an opportunity for guys to step up and show what they can do.”
The Monarchs showed what they can do on Friday, February 10 where they defeated the Worcester Sharks 3-1 and allowed a season low 18 shots.
“We showed we can win the other night with a line-up like that,” reflected Muzzin. “It comes down to hard work and playing in your structure and your systems. Hard work will beat skill any day. If we stay with that attitude, we can continue on winning.”
The common denominator here is hard work. King, Nolan and the Kings saw their hard work rewarded with a victory in Dallas on Sunday and the Monarchs were rewarded with a win against the Sharks.
It will not come easy for the Monarchs this weekend with three games in three days but the message is clear; Work hard and you will be successful.