Kings coach Murray sees ‘signs of progress’ with Penner

Last week I posted an extended interview with Dustin Penner following the Kings Development Camp in El Segundo. He was at TSC working out and shared a ton of thoughts on summer conditioning, next season…and offered up plenty of one-liners.

In the article below, Kings coach Terry Murray responds to some of Penner’s comments and weighs in on the somewhat volatile ‘Penner Debate’ currently circulating among Kings fans.

On Penner’s commitment to summer workouts, Murray said – “This goes back to a conversation we had, right at the end of the year. It’s important to know who we are as an LA King and become part of our team and our culture, our structure and to be a player that I expect him to be. To play upwards of 20 minutes a night in a game, it’s going to demand a lot on the physical part of it. He’s been here from the end of the season (at TSC). He’s worked very hard with Tim Adams and we’re starting to see some signs of progress.”

Was it pride that got to him, hearing all of the criticism? – “I hope that’s the right way to define it, to term it. ‘Pride’ is a very good word,” explained Murray. “I think sometimes as coaches and people in management, even the media, we have a tendency to go that direction to see if there’s going to be a response. Definitely there’s a reaction here and it’s a positive reaction. We need him to just follow through with what he’s been doing so far (over) the rest of the summer. It’s a big, big push. He’s got some catching up to do, I know. This last couple of months here is going to be critical and important, so that I can use him in those situations – and live up to the expectations of being the player he knows he can be.”

On the changes he’s hearing and seeing from Penner, Murray said “When I was here before the draft, I went over and watched them workout at the field – (Scott) Parse, (Dustin) Brown, Penner and Matt Greene were there. That’s very intense. When you get Tim (Adams) out there for a couple of hours, doing lunges and squats – you’re going the full length of the football field. It’s very, very intense at the end of that time. He’s pushing through it. You’re pushing through on the emotional part of things too. You’re trying to dig in and get to one more step further than, maybe, you ever went before. That’s mental toughness. And that’s really what it’s going to take in order get young players and veteran players to a higher standard than the standard we’re trying to uphold.”

On Penner saying he was surprised at the intensity of the workouts in LA, well – “I don’t like to hear that,” Murray shared. “I think players should know that you do have to work hard. This is a business where that’s a given. Hard work is the foundation of what it’s all about, to bring your skill out. Most importantly for Dustin though is that he’s talking about it and he’s doing it. He’s getting himself ready for the training camp here. I want him to be able to step on the ice and go through the testing that we do on the first day. Then, as we get into the practice, start to play at a high level, execute the structure and the system that we want to play and be able to do it through the 60 minutes. That’s what it’s all about – play the game the right way. That, to me, means being in top physical condition.”

On what he’s seen from Penner so far – “I’m very encouraged, absolutely,” said the Kings head coach. “We’re pushing him here. There’s no doubt about that way. We met on this right at the end of the year and he understands. This is a big year for him – coming from Edmonton and coming back to California, playing for the Los Angeles Kings. He knows he has something to prove. He has great talent and great ability. It’s at a time when you have to make that decision to get it done. Time moves on very quickly. If you’re going to let it slide until you’re 30 years old, you might not be able to catch up. So, he’s doing the right thing and I’m excited for him. He’s been hungry, excited and on board with everything we’ve asked him to do.”

If you missed the full interview with Penner, do yourself a favor and check it out here. You’ll laugh out loud more than once.

The Mayor
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About the Author: The Mayor of the LA Kings provides news, interviews and inside information at www.MayorsManor.com. His stories have been featured on ESPN, The Fourth Period, Hockey Independent and many other websites. You can also follow along at www.twitter.com/MayorNHL and/or www.facebook.com/MayorsManor.

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