NO DOUBTING THOMAS AT HICKEY’S HOCKEY CAMP

LA Kings 2010 Rookie Camp - clean sheet of iceA new day.

A fresh sheet of ice.

Sometimes, that’s all it takes to change perspective. I walked into the Toyota Center well rested, relaxed, wearing one of my oldest shirts (a Ramones shirt from nearly 20 years ago that still looks great), and ready to watch number 37 shine…or so I hoped. Surly joined me about 15 minutes later.

Let’s get to it.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

LA Kings 2010 Rookie CampPassing drills. Shooting drills. Defensive formations against the counter attack. Offensive breakouts in transition. Groups as small as 2 and as large as 5 on each end of the ice. One after the other, the on ice coaches drew diagrams on the boards while the players stood or knelt and watched. Immediately thereafter, they skated into position, whistle blew, go! My eyes followed 37 up, down and lateral. If he moved, I was there with him.

First impressions…concern. Hickey was out of sync. While he made short, clean passes, he struggled handling the puck on several plays. He lost it twice as it either bounced over his stick or he misplayed the pass. Nothing impressive on the defensive side but nothing terrible either. I dare write that it appeared he was going through the motions. Hickey’s best showed during offensive transitions. His low and accurate shot from the point reminded me of Kyle Quincey. No rocket necessary so long as it gets on net and generates a rebound. Hickey scored one from the point and put in a sloppy rebound as well. Perhaps I read too much into it, but at one moment, when he awaited the next drill, he took one puck and released wrist shots into the side boards, over and over again. This wasn’t just goofing around or practicing the release. He wore a frustrated gesture with the puck slamming exercise as a speculative means to vent.

EVOLUTION

As the morning wore on, he improved. The 5 on 5 drills seemed to bring out the best in him. His skating stride is not fluid. A telling sign is the bouncing motion which accompanies that stride. Hickey labors. He doesn’t glide. Despite his skating, the more players on the ice and the more coaches presented real game scenarios, the more comfortable Thomas appeared. He took away a cross ice pass and forced the shooter to take a bad angle wrister on goal, which missed wide. He cleared the front of the net immediately upon a rebound. He is not able to outmuscle too many players that park in front of the netminder but he is capable of getting to the puck first, gaining position and leverage.

ELATION

Surly may have some of this video about which I am about to write. When the drills stopped and the boys played 5 on 5 hockey, Hickey’s best came out. That lackluster, almost lazy demeanor changed to something schizophrenic. Thomas battled. He took his game to another level. Passing, winning skirmishes along the boards, despite lacking size, using his intelligence to take the puck away from rushing forwards and making stick to stick passes through the neutral zone. Who is this guy, I asked at one time? It was Thomas Hickey, the 4th overall draft pick in 2007 playing the part Kings’ fans hope to see this season.

STRENGTH SUMMARY

Intelligence. On ice vision. Passing. Low and accurate wrist and slap shot from the point.

AREAS IN NEED OF IMPROVEMENT

Skating. Mid range speed and acceleration.

QUESTIONS

Will his game translate to the NHL? If he is 6 feet tall, he doesn’t look it. He is however built like an athlete. Hickey needs 10-15 pounds on his frame. He has the room to fill out. If he intends to break into the top 4 on a solid Kings’ defense, he will have to work on that skating and toughness. Today’s NHL moves at a lightning pace. Defensemen that lack size and strength must skate well to survive. I can see Hickey making the team. Though he did not impress me as much as Jake Muzzin, he does have seniority and has earned his place here. We wish him the best and hope to see that best this season.

Here are some short videos I took today. This is certainly not within my skill set, as you can see. I leave that to Surly who should have some damn good ones later today.

How did that get in here? Surly must have distracted me…

Heidi Androl at 2010 LA Kings Rookie Camp

Back to Hickey…



Categories: L.A. Kings News

Tags: , , ,

4 replies

  1. Man, that’s great stuff from the camp. You’re the best to get this out to us. Thank you so much. It’s great to see that Hickey improved and focused on his play the more the day went on, and as the drills approached more real game-like situations. This kid should make the team this year, so it’s great that you concentrated on him, and brought us this focus on his performance. Great job!

  2. Surprising to hear of Hickey’s difficulties skating.

    His skating has been rated better than good–Actually outstanding.

    Maybe he still has some lingering pain or tightness.

    TH is supposed to be one of the best natural skaters in the org!

    • I will expand a bit here. A fluid skater, one with speed under control, glides. There is no up and down, almost bobbing motion. The lateral movement of the upper body is minimal. Paul Coffey is a good example of skating perfection. Luc Robitaille is a good example of the other extreme (don’t get me wrong, I like Luc a lot and he was one of the best snipers in the game…we are just talking about skating in a vacuum).

      Hickey bobbed. When he skated, especially backward or laterally, he labored. At first, I thought he had to still be hurt because he didn’t look comfortable. Now, I’m not so sure. I think it is just his style. He is not a bad skater but he is not a great one either.

      FWIW, I spoke with a current member of the Kings organization (someone well known and highly respected) for 15 minutes (I won’t mention who because it was an off the record discussion). I asked him specifically about Hickey and his skating. He said exactly what I saw. I asked if Thomas was playing hurt. He said no. That is his skating style. “He is not quick and fluid but he is so sound positionally and smart.”

      The best example of an average skater than bobs more than glides? Me :)

  3. “Smooth-skating” is practically Hickey’s epithet. This blog is the only place I’ve ever seen anyone criticize that part of his game. It’s puzzling.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,044 other followers

%d bloggers like this: