Colt King, who played for six OHL teams over five years, found a home in the ECHL this season with the Augusta Lynx. Under head coach Stan Drulia, the 6’2 220-pound rookie winger improved as the season went on.
A physical player with some offensive skill, after 42 games, King had only six points, but now with 66 games played, he has 20, along with 158 penalty minutes. King was a runner up for ECHL Rookie of the Month in February 2005, putting up 12 points in 11 games during that span.
King was a fourth round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2001, but went unsigned.
Signed by the Reading Royals over the summer, he was waived during camp and picked up by the Lynx. It was a good fit for both sides, but Augusta will have to wait until next season to take the relationship into the postseason, as they’ve missed the playoffs with a 28-34-8 record.
Hockey’s Future caught up with the 21-year-old Ontario native after the second to last game of the year, a heartbreaking 3-2 overtime loss to the Gwinnett Gladiators on Friday.
HF: You got going offensively late in the season. Can you talk about how your season went and how you picked it up?
CK: Well I guess is was more just the chance to play. Coming in here I was the youngest guy on my team. I didn’t really expect much other than to be a third line guy, be put out there in situations and just try to work my hardest and get a regular shift. But I’ve worked pretty hard in practice throughout the course of the year. After Christmas, Stan (Drulia) acknowledged that I was working hard, so he told me he was going to reward me. I’ve been trying not to look back since. I’m really grateful for the opportunity that he’s given me and I’m going to try to make the best of it.
HF: The line you’re with now, have you been with them for a while?
CK: There’s no really set lines. It’s been hard, I’ve been in and out of the line-up lately with a few injuries. There haven’t been set lines, with trades and whatnot, we’ve been just kind of rotating. We put whoever out there when we can and just try to work hard.
HF: Was the adjustment to this league tougher than you expected?
CK: You know what, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. There’s a lot of good, good talent in this league with the lockout and all. It’s a lot like the OHL, same sort of game, there’s the crafty forwards and there’s the physical wingers. I guess the only real difference is the speed and the size and maturity level of a lot of people. Everybody is a lot smarter and there’s a lot more skill out there.
HF: You said you got a better opportunity after Christmas. What were you doing differently in your game that made him decide to give you more ice time?
CK: It was just a willingness to compete I think. Every shift I was out there, I was finishing a check or I was going to the net hard, I’d get in a fight here and there if I had to, just try to help the team. It was just a lot of little things that pay off. I’m not really what you look at as a skill player, but when it comes down to it, I think I can help the team. Crash and bang along the walls and going to the net, chipping in every once in a while.
HF: You were waived by Reading at the beginning of the year, was that a real kick in the pants for you?
CK: Yeah, it was a bit of a shocker. There were a couple of teams I could have gone to in the summer, but I figured Reading would be the best fit for me. Then being waived at the beginning of the year was kind of a wake-up call, but I’m really fortunate that I got the opportunity here and I’ve never really looked back.
HF: Obviously you’ll keep your options open for higher leagues next year, but if Augusta wants you back, you’d be back?
CK: Oh of course I would. I really look up to Stan (Drulia). He’s taken a lot of time to try to help me out throughout the year. I guess it all depends on who comes back and that. With this league, I’ve never seen so many trades and people moving. So it’s really hard to say, but if the opportunity came about to come back, for sure I’d come back.
HF: What’s the biggest thing in your game that you need to work on to move up?
CK: I guess my footspeed…
HF: I commented that your breakaway tonight was one of the slowest I’d seen in a while!
CK: Yeah, my back’s been killing me for the last like week. Stan asked me if I could play and I’m going to do anything I can to try and help the team, so I’m playing through a few injuries right now. I feel like I’m going a lot faster than it looks probably (laughs). So yeah, footspeed and being aware, try to make decisions a second quicker. I think that all comes with time, too. The quick feet I can work on in the offseason.
HF: Some people have criticized your consistency in the past, do you feel you’ve been better with that this year?
CK: I think so. I think coming from the OHL, once you prove yourself, it’s almost like you set the mark and you can just lean on that. I think that’s what I did. I had one good year, my second year, which got me drafted. So yeah, it’s just hard work and consistency, trying to keep yourself motivated each game. With the grueling schedule we’ve had this year, it’s been awfully hard. But I’m looking for bigger and better things.
HF: What was it like to be a rookie again this year?
CK: (laughs) Well, it’s been a few years, but with everyone moving back and forth, it’s either been we’ve had a bunch of rookies at once, or I was the only guy unloading the bus or whatever. Everyone had to go through it, and it happens sooner or later. I’m just glad I’m not 25 like some of the guys who are rookies. I’m pretty lucky I came in at 21.
HF: Earlier this year Chanse Fitzpatrick told me you were the toughest guy he fought in the OHL. Who do you think is one of the toughest, in either league?
CK: I don’t know, that’s tough to say. There are a lot of guys who could surprise you on any given night. I’m fortunate I haven’t really taken any beatings this year.
HF: This is the first time in several years that you won’t be going to the playoffs. Is that a real downer?
CK: Yeah, it’s definitely a big shocker. It’s a big surprise. Growing up as a kid, we were always in the finals, always making it far in the playoffs. In the OHL, I made it to the second round once, but at least I was in the playoffs every year. So it’s definitely a shocker but I think a lot of our players are also really worn out. Me personally, my body needs a month to rest. It’s really unfortunate and everyone’s tired, but playoff time, that’s what it’s all about, pushing the envelope.
HF: What are you going to do this summer to train?
CK: I’m going to go back home, let my body heal up and then work on some quick feet and get lighter on my feet.
HF: Do you work with a trainer?
CK: I have, but I think I push myself better when I’m alone. I usually work out late at night. That’s easier for me. I had a trainer for a month last summer, but I don’t think I really need one. I basically know what I’m doing. At this point in time in my life, I shouldn’t have someone pushing me. I can stay focused myself.
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