Stef In The Right Direction
Manchester Monarchs right wing Stefan Legein had an unconventional start to the 2011-12 season. He entered training camp last September with the Philadelphia Flyers before being reassigned to the Adirondack Phantoms for the start of the 2011-12 season. Legein did not appear a game with the Phantoms before he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings on October 12, one week following the start of the American Hockey League season.
Legein reported immediately to Manchester and made his Monarchs debut on October 15 against the Portland Pirates despite meeting his new teammates for the first time just a day or two earlier.
“It was difficult for me at first,” stated Legein. “It took a while for me to get into the game situations that I wanted to be in but that is just because I needed to gain everyone’s trust. Once I found (my game), it was awesome. I had a real good time and played some good hockey personally.”
Monarchs Head Coach Mark Morris commended how well Legein transitioned to his new team.
“I think that speaks to Stefan’s willingness to try and blend in and to figure out where he fit into the team,” explained Morris. “It did not happen right away but credit him with the hard work and the sure-handed play that gave him the opportunity. The more ice he got, the better he played and the more confident he was. There was an element of trust on both sides as a player and as a coach to know that he was going to be looked upon to either shutdown the opposition or to go out and produce (offensively).”
The Monarchs were also satisfied with an increased role from Legein on special teams as he set a Monarchs single-season record and finished tied for the league-lead in shorthanded goals with five tallies.
“His defensive instincts and his ability to score shorthanded and to shut other teams down was a key reason for our strong play even having lost key members of our team,” praised Morris. “Stefan took a big jump in his role and also offered a scoring punch and became a shorthanded threat.”
Legein admits leading the league in shorthanded goals was not his initial intention.
“I would like to (lead the league next season as well),” chuckled Legein. “It is fun to score shorthanded but if I can help the team have a top of the league penalty kill percentage that would be just as fun. If I score, I score but I am just trying to keep them out of our net so hopefully we can build off of last year’s numbers.”
Legein should have a chance to build off last year’s numbers now that he has re-signed with the Kings for the 2012-13 season.
“It is great to be back with the Kings, especially after they won the Stanley Cup,” said Legein. “It is nice to play well enough to get that NHL contract, especially with an organization like LA. The Kings have come so far in the last couple years and to win the Stanley Cup and to be back in this organization means a lot to me and I am excited (for next season).”
Morris was also happy to hear Legein had re-signed with the Kings organization.
“We are delighted with what we saw and getting to know him and seeing him emerge as a key contributor was great and we look forward to continued growth and development of his game,” stated Morris.
While Legein is expected to return, Monarchs Assistant Coach Scott Pellerin will not be as he was named the Head Coach of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers earlier this week. Legein reflected on the impact Pellerin had in the Monarchs locker room when he first got to Manchester.
“Scott taught me a lot last year,” recounted Legein. “When it was at the start (of the season) and I was not playing as much, it was tough for me but he kept me motivated and we worked out a lot of things together to make my game better. He was the one who initially talked to Mark (Morris) about getting me onto the penalty kill. I owe a lot of my success last season to him. He spent a lot of time working with me and some of the younger guys. He is a great coach and I know he is going to do well in Bridgeport. It will just (stink) when we have to beat him.”
Legein has a lot of memories from last season but some events in particular are more memorable for him than the others.
“That final weekend and needing wins in all three games to get into the playoffs,” recounted Legein of what moment stands out to him from last season. “For me, it was the first time while in the AHL that I made the playoffs and just the way we did it with being out of it and everyone did not know if it was going to happen and then came together as a team and were able to make the playoffs. It was a memorable time and one I will never forget. It was just fun to go from not knowing if we are going to make the playoffs to being in the playoffs and I do not know if it looks close because they beat us three-games-to-one but the series was a lot closer than that.”
For the rest of the off-season, Legein’s plan is to keep training and progressing toward next season.
“We have a good group of guys that we can get out on the ice anytime,” stated Legein. “Later in the summer, when we start focusing more on skating, there are so many good players around here such as, Patrick O’Sullivan (Phoenix Coyotes), Dan Carcillo (Chicago Blackhawks), Kyle Quincey (Detroit Red Wings) and others and we all get together and lace up skates for two or three weeks. There is a lot of good talent around (Ontario) which makes it easy to get better.”
With one season in the Kings organization under his belt, it will be interesting to see what a more confident and comfortable Legein can do come this October.