One-on-one with… Kevin Fiala |

As part of the texts in the “Head to Head with…” series, we interview players from the world of hockey to learn more about their lives on and off the ice. This special off-season edition features the Los Angeles Kings forward Kevin Fiala.

PARIS – Kevin Fiala approaches the start of the season as the start of a new chapter in his career following the trade that moved him to the Los Angeles Kings on June 29.

Unlike the time he moved from the Nashville Predators to the Minnesota Wild before the trade deadline in 2019, he expected and prepared for it.

The 26-year-old forward became a restricted free agent after a season that saw him reach career-highs in goals (33), assists (52) and points (85). He suspected that the Wild would not have enough space on the payroll to offer him a new contract.

« I’m not stupid, » Fiala said. I saw it coming, I understood the salary situation and everything else. It helped me manage the transaction when it happened because I knew it was coming. »

A day after being traded for defensive prospect Brock Faber and the 19th overall pick in the last draft, he signed a seven-year, $55.125 million ($7.875 million per year) pact and got the rest of the summer to prepare for his move to Los Angeles.

« It’s better when it happens in the off-season, » he said. The process is easier. You can think about whatever is coming up, talk to the guys and enjoy the holidays. Two months later, I’m ready to go to LA and meet everyone. It’s a new start. » spoke with Fiala during the European NHL Players Media Tour on Aug. 24. He discussed his excitement about joining the Kings, the success he wants to have in the playoffs and his departure from Minnesota:

What convinced you to sign a contract so quickly after the transaction?

“I think they have a great team. They had a good season last year and they made the playoffs. The future is bright. In seven years, you can take big steps. They still rely on veterans – Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty – who have won the Cup before. They have experience and can help young people go all the way. »

What do you think you can bring to the team?

“I hope I can help them take the next step. »

Speaking with coach Todd McLellan, did he say where he sees you playing in the squad?

 » We will see. I’ll go as it comes. I will give my best and we will see what happens. »

Have you set foot in Los Angeles and found a place to live?

“Not yet, no. I look at what is available online. I prefer to see in real life before buying something. Summer is pretty busy. »

What will be the biggest difference between playing in Los Angeles and playing in Minnesota?

“The lifestyle is very different. It’s cold in Minnesota, but I really liked it. In Los Angeles, it will be hot and sunny all the time. I will be able to go to the arena in sandals, it will be easier to keep a positive mentality with a radiant sun. »

Is it hard to leave your Wild teammates and what you were building in Minnesota?

“Yes, it was very difficult. We had built something. When I landed there in 2019, we hadn’t made the playoffs. Things have improved year by year. The locker room was like a big family. It’s hard to leave what I helped build. At the same time, I couldn’t be happier to be part of the Kings, and I can’t wait to get started. »

You have just had your best season on offense. Do you think you can reach another level in your ninth year in the NHL?

“I hope I have even more to offer. I’m 26 years old. I am quite young. I have big goals for the future. I had a good season, but everything has to start over. »

In what aspect do you think you have improved the most over the years?

“I think it’s in the mental chapter, in consistency. We play 82 games. It’s a long season full of ups and downs. If you can stay mentally consistent, I think that’s the key to success. I’ve always been a bit impatient and sometimes I want to do too much. My goals are big and I can’t achieve them in a day. I understood it. I learned to have more fun playing, being with the guys. Everything falls into place with this attitude. »

Several rookies made an impact at the Kings last year, including forwards Quinton Byfield, Arthur Kaliyev and Rasmus Kupari and the defender Sean Durzi. Do you think you can help them and the other young people on the team with your experience?

 » I hope. It’s one of my goals. I have gone through several hardships in my career even though I am young. I will probably be able to help them. »

You missed most of the Predators’ run to the finals in 2017 because you suffered a broken leg. You haven’t won a playoff round with the Wild. How badly do you want to be successful in the playoffs with the Kings?

“I am not getting any younger. The years go by. I’m 26 years old and I’m aiming for the Stanley Cup. I don’t want to turn 30 and not have earned it. It’s every player’s goal and I don’t want to take anything for granted. With the Predators, we reached the final. It was five years ago. We always tell ourselves that we will have another chance, but since that time, I have not crossed the first round.

« That’s what I saw when Nathan MacKinnon won last season. He left everything on the ice because you never know if it’s our only opportunity. It may be the last. When you have the chance, with a good team, you have to take it. We will start the season and see where we stand. »

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