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Exit interviews for 2024, Key Player Takeaways: Disappointment + Contracts, Illnesses, Injuries, World Titles,

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“It’s never easy to not live up to expectations and goals, and this year was no exception.”

On the day of the Exit Interview in El Segundo, Captain Anze Kopitar was the first of 14 players to speak as the LA Kings players officially ended their 2023–24 season. It is definitely not a picture of a happy morning for a squad that started out with desire and anticipation of achieving the next step when the message is what it was above. Unfortunately, it was not the outcome.

Defenseman Mikey Anderson continued, “I feel like we’ve been in the same spot here three years in a row, where it’s taking the next step, and we’ve stayed in the same spot.”

For the third consecutive season, the Kings are speaking after an earlier than expected exit from the postseason. In 2022, the expectations were low and simply qualifying for the playoffs was a win. Last season was a step forward in terms of expectations but also in performance. Felt like the group on the verge of taking the next step. Now, with expectations rising, the result has remained the same. From the perspective of the many players who spoke today,

“Our objective this season was to win the first round and see what we could do going forward,” defenseman Drew Doughty added. “It’s unfortunate we were unable to do that.”

The players had their day today, and in the days that followed, front office availability was anticipated. The players have not yet met with management after the season, but they completed their departure medicals today. These meetings are anticipated to take place in the next several days, and afterward, we will hear from individuals inside the company.

The players spoke to us about a variety of topics today, but the general consensus was that the team had had a terrible season. Over the following few days, I’ll release the videos in their entirety along with my analysis and insights into the comments.

We’ll go into more detail about that in the next days, but for now, here are the quick highlights from the departure interviews, including information on contracts, sicknesses, injuries, World Championship participation, and more.

Agreements
Three unrestricted free agents, Viktor Arvidsson, Matt Roy, and Cam Talbot, as well as one restricted free agent, Quinton Byfield, were among the players that spoke today.

Regarding Arvidsson and Roy, their contracts with the Kings expire at the end of this season. Since being acquired by the Kings in the summer of 2021 from Nashville, Arvidsson has already participated in three seasons of league play.

At the age of 28, Roy enters his first season of unrestricted free agency. Roy is about to sign a deal that will change his life. Coming off of establishing himself as an NHL regular and contributor, he is entering unrestricted free agency. He mentioned that his camp communicated with the Kings around the holidays, but all talks were put on hold for the summer following the events with the Kings in January.

It’s clear that this is a terrific location to play; I adore this squad and the players on it, Roy remarked. “It’s a business for the team and me, so I’d be more than happy to stay,” I’m going into the summer with an open mind, and we’ll see where things go from there.

After experiencing injury challenges and uncertainties, the Los Angeles Kings players offered insights into their personal experiences and future plans. For Victor Arvidsson, being able to play games at the end of the season was significant personally. Facing the prospect of surgery, he opted for it in October, as the return timeline allowed him to play before the season’s end and playoffs. As a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA), this was crucial, and Arvidsson appreciated the support from the Kings staff during his rehab. He plans to discuss his future with his agent and team management in the coming days.

In contrast, goaltender Cam Talbot expressed his desire to remain with the Kings. At 36 years old, he prioritizes winning and situational stability in his next contract, aiming for a multi-year deal to provide stability for his family. Talbot has played for seven teams in 10 years and hopes to stay in one place, preferably Los Angeles. However, he acknowledges the business aspect and remains open to possibilities.

As for Quentin Byfield, he hasn’t focused much on his impending restricted free agency. He plans to discuss options with his agent but is confident about returning to the Kings, with the only uncertainty being the contract terms. Byfield’s next contract is likely the Kings’ biggest financial commitment this summer, offering various options from a one-year to an eight-year deal.

The players also shared insights into their injuries and illnesses. Center Phillip Danault revealed playing with two broken fingers, impacting his shooting, puck battles, and faceoffs. Forward Byfield battled an illness towards the end of the season, affecting his performance. Despite these challenges, both players persevered, with Danault expected to fully recover before next season.

On the World Championships front, some Kings players declined invitations due to personal reasons, while others, like Drew Doughty, consider participating. There’s a mix of considerations, including family time and re-writing the season’s ending.

The players discussed team systems and accountability, with Pierre-Luc Dubois acknowledging his disappointing season and commitment to improvement. Despite uncertainties about the organization’s future decisions, the players are focused on their roles and contributions.

Overall, the interviews provided insights into the players’ experiences, challenges, and future plans, reflecting a mix of personal and professional considerations amidst a backdrop of uncertainties and possibilities.

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