Ken Klee, a 14-year veteran, is showing his young teammates what it takes to be a successful defenseman in the National Hockey League.
When Klee joined the Coyotes off re-entry waivers from the Anaheim Ducks in October, his goals were simple: play solid defense and help develop young teammates into solid professionals.
“Playing good defense in the league now is about using your partner and moving the puck,” said Klee, who has been paired primarily with 23-year-old Keith Yandle
. “One of the things I have tried to work on my whole career is just being real efficient with the puck.”
The game has changed a lot for Klee, who joined the NHL in 1994-95 with the Washington Capitals. He has played 913 regular-season games and counting.
“I just think the speed of the game is a little more than it used to be mainly because there is no hooking or holding allowed now,” said Klee, who has 54 goals and 139 assists in his career. “You are also allowed to make that long pass and that just leads to more speed.”
Besides being a team-high plus-9 this season, Klee has played a big role in Yandle’s development.
“I try to support him every game and tell him I am going to be there for him,” Klee said. “Obviously, he is a great skater and has great puck skills. We just try to talk out there and get the job done.”
Yandle said Klee has helped him post career offensive numbers this season.
“He’s been great for me,” said Yandle, who has 25 points in 50 games. “He’s a very vocal guy on and off the ice. He is always talking to me, giving me advice. We do a lot of talking. Before games we talk. After video we talk about what we are going to do. He is good with that stuff. I talk to him and try to get more advice from him every day. He brings out a lot in me on the ice.”
Klee agrees that communication has been key to their success this season.
“It’s an easier game when you talk,” Klee said. “I think that’s probably one of the biggest things I have learned, that if you talk, it makes it an easier game. We just try to talk out there and get the job done.”