It’s the offseason. The only part of the year when hockey fans are known to generally dislike everyday activities, write poetry, shut out the outside world and cry themselves to sleep, if they even get sleep at all…a pathetic existence, we know…but it’s all one can do while we hurry up and wait for the excitement that is training camp, preseason, and then before you know it, the kickoff of yet another mind-blowing hockey season.
For the Kings organization, there is particularly a lot to look forward to. For the parent club, Los Angeles is looking to make big waves defensively in the Pacific Division this season with the addition of Rob Scuderi, Rob Scuderi’s Championship Ring, and the re-signing of Jack “MF” Johnson and Teddy Purcell among other things, but let’s not forget about the huge, ridiculous things happening for the King’s AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs.
With last season seeing the transformation of Jonathan Quick from AHL goalie to NHL superhero, one can only assume even bigger things are in the cards for the Monarchs this year…especially given the hand they are playing…
Well while every offseason, fans grasp onto some kind of ridiculous expectation for their respective teams going into the new season, waiting with bated breath for it to be realized…the Kings organization is in PRIME position to deliver on those expectations this year. They have a secret weapon…which has turned out to be not so secret after all...
Of course I speak about Thomas Hickey. Moan and groan all you want, but to any Kings fan…and ESPECIALLY to any Monarchs fan, just the though of him melts our frozen puck-like hearts and we become giddy and squeal like little school girls…why, you ask? To which I answer…Do you really HAVE to ask?? Anyone who watched even one game of the 2009 World Junior Championships would know the answer to that. At 5’11, and 190 lbs, Hickey may be small for a defenseman, but in watching the guy skate, you’d swear he didn’t know it.
As Captain of the Seattle Thunderbirds (where he began playing in 2005), Hickey’s 45 point performance (11 G, 34 A) in 07-08 earned him a spot on the Team Canada roster for the 2009 WJC (his second consecutive year on the roster)…and not only would he be representing his home country, but he would do it in style, with a “C” on his chest. Playing alongside 2009 first round pick and 1st overall, Jonathan Tavares, Team Canada was unstoppable. Winning the gold medal for the fifth year in a row, Team Canada proved that they are literally the best team in the world, and Thomas Hickey proved why he belongs wearing the “C”.
…and if that gold medal was only a sign of things to come, we have some amazing things to look forward to. In returning from the WJC, Hickey helped his team into a playoff spot in the WHL playoffs and the Quest for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, and after getting called up to Manchester on April 1st, to begin his professional career, Hickey posted an impressive 7 points in 7 games and 2 assists alone in his professional debut. It’s evident that Hickey finished off his 2008-2009 season as a two way defenseman really hitting his stride and after ending last season on such a high note, one can only expect huge things from the 20 year old defenseman this coming season.
But where Thomas Hickey really earns brownie points is in leadership. He is more mature than his 20 young years would lead one to believe and at the risk of building him up as a squeaky clean Sidney Crosby type (who needs that hanging over their head?)he may very well be on his way as establishing himself as the Monarchs go-to guy and fan favorite.
Every jaded hockey fan and every hockey team knows, there’s no point in building expectations…but then again, those teams didn’t have Thomas Hickey.
As we slowly sneak past Development Camps, and into Training Camps…the anticipation only builds for what will hopefully be a season to remember. Opening night will kick things off, and we hockey fans will come out of hibernation and start banging glass and flipping off refs like normal…then before you know it, the All Star Game will be here and we will be into the dog days of the hockey season. So I remind you: get excited, take the time to get to know your team, enjoy it while it lasts…and never, never stop cheering.