Daryl Evans is a man of many talents. Not only is he an active member of the LA Kings Alumni Association Presented By Toyota, he serves as a Kings radio commentator on KTLK AM 1150, conducts interviews for Kings Vision and works closely with the Kings coaching and hockey operations staff. On Jan. 2 Evans will be honored as part of the Kings’ Legends Night Series Presented by McDonald’s.
LAKings.com caught up with Evans on his day-to-day life with the Kings and what it means to be honored as a legend.
Evans: First of all, I think the Legends Nights are a great idea. I think it’s a great gesture by the organization in honoring former players and the time that they spent here and I feel very honored in having a night in my honor. I’ve been with the Kings a long time and it’s a great reflection. I’m looking forward to it – got a lot of family and friends coming to the game, so it should be a very special night.
Q: Describe a typical day for you.
Evans: A typical day right now starts early in the morning – I am an early riser, usually in the 4 a.m. range. I get on the ice around 6 ‘o clock in the morning on most days that we’re in town. Sometime through the course of the day I’ll get some physical activity in, whether it’s going for a run, rollerblading down to the Strand, those type of things. I watch practice, do interviews with the coach after, talk to the players during the course of the game on a game day. Other times, just monitoring what’s going on in practice, line changes and things like that, just trying to stay up with what’s going on. We get what we call a sports scan that covers articles from all 30 NHL teams in the league and I have fun reading through that just to see what’s going on with each organization. I’m not a computer type of person so I spend a lot of time reading as opposed to looking things up on the computer. A lot of days when we are in town I work with the Ice Crew. I enjoy skating with them and that’s become a fun thing. A lot times during the course of the year, even in the off season, we are either visiting schools, going to speaking engagements, things like that.
Q: What’s your favorite part about being part of the LA Kings Alumni Association Presented By Toyota?
Evans: I think when you look at being part of an Alumni Association, again, it becomes an honor. You look at our organization now, we’re probably in the midst of having the greatest success that this organization has ever had. I think when we look at the team that is in place now, it may be as good a team as the organization has ever had as well. Having been part of it, whether it be 10, 15, 30 years ago, 40 years ago, I think you feel quite proud of that – to see the way things have come. We have always aimed to win a Stanley Cup here in Los Angeles, so still being involved with it, especially an active person in the Alumni Association, I get to see the way things have developed from the hockey side of things, from the business side of things, to see the impact the team has had in the community – it’s very rewarding so I’m very proud to still be part of it and be part of this Alumni Association.
Q: When did you start playing hockey?
Evans: I was a late starter – I didn’t start playing until I was almost nine years old, back in Canada. I was actually a goalie in my first year because I couldn’t skate. I got hit early in my career as a goalie. I got hit with one in the head, came home with a bunch of black eyes and so I was given the choice of learning to skate in the off season or not playing hockey the next year. I learned to skate and within a couple of years before my 11th birthday, I actually became a junior instructor. That’s why I think I probably take a lot of interest in the skating part of the game.
Q: What was it like transitioning from a player to a Kings commentator?
Evans: I think the transition went pretty smooth being that I got involved with it right away. My role is probably a little different than most commentators because I’m involved on the hockey part of things as well. There wasn’t that gap when I finished my career playing over here in North America. I went over to Europe and I was actually coaching and playing so there was little bit of a transition there. When I came back, I actually completely removed myself from the game. I wasn’t involved in hockey for a few years. I got involved in the automobile business, which I took a lot of pride in and I dove into that. It consumed a lot of my time and I think probably eventually prepared me better for what I ‘m doing today in life and appreciating what I had in the past. It was an easy transition because of the fact in stepping into a coaching role right after playing kind of eased the pain a little bit not having to go to the rink to actually play each and every day.
Q: Talk about game days for the Kings and how you prepare for them.
Evans: A lot of it has to do with if you’re around your own team like the Kings, you kind of know them like the back of your hand. I think the biggest thing is learning the opponents, teams in your own division are fairly easy, teams that you see frequently, maybe a team that you played in the playoffs, a couple of years in a row, you learn a lot about them. I think probably the toughest part of it is the teams that are in the Eastern Conference that you maybe only play once a year and that makes it a little tough because you’re not as familiar with the players. The day of the game I watch some of the morning skate, usually a couple of interviews after, speak with the coach just to get his thoughts, get a little bite to eat, get an afternoon workout in and get down to the STAPLES Center close to three hours before the game. To get ready for the game, I talk with Nick Nickson when we get in the press room, along with Bob Miller and Jim Fox. We’ll just exchange ideas or thoughts, anything that one of us has learned. We get a chance to see the opposing teams radio and TV people – they’ll tell us a little bit what’s going on with their team, we’ll tell them about what’s going on with our team and that just gives us a little more preparation for our broadcast and once the game starts it goes really quick. Post-game I do an interview, I come down to the locker room and then we get ready for our post-game show. So once we go on the air at 7 o’clock, it’s pretty much from 7 o’clock to 11:30 at night we’re on the air. It takes a little while to unwind after that, I usually get home and go to bed about 1:30 to 2 o’clock and the next day starts in a couple of hours.
Q: Describe the first time you stepped on the ice as a Kings player.
Evans: Well I think the first thing, just being drafted – it’s such a special thing. The draft was in Montreal when it was my draft year. Being that I was from Canada, that was special because it was the Montreal Canadiens, one of the original six teams, the winningest franchise in NHL history, that was special just being there. Hearing your name get called by the team it’s something that you don’t forget. I think the time that you first get to put the uniform on, you go to training camp and that’s one thing, the exhibition games are another thing, but when you actually put a jersey on, especially when you’re at home, I think you kind of take ownership, you feel like this is yours and you become part of it. It was special even though at the time Los Angeles was a fairly new franchise in the NHL – they’d only been around 14-15 years at that time. It was a great experience I think that probably kind of drags you back to your first team – that draft team is always special.
Q: Describe what it felt like before and after scoring the winning goal against the Edmonton Oilers during the Miracle on Manchester.
Evans: Well I think when you look at that series Edmonton I believe was 46 points ahead of us during the regular season so we weren’t supposed to be any competition for them. I think everybody anticipated it would be a shorts series, three to five it would be over in three games. I think we surprised them when we went to Edmonton and split the first two games and then they’d won the second one so having that momentum to come back to LA for Game Three and then they built the 5-0 lead. I think everybody was, at the point, ok this is the Edmonton Oilers we expected to see and this is the Kings they expected to see on the wrong side of the scoreboard. We were trailing by five going into the third period – I think we were just trying to set the tone and the stage for the next game – to win the final 20 minutes of that game and go into the next game with a little bit of momentum, with something positive to build on. We just wanted to peck away – you get one goal early and next thing you know by the middle of the period it was 5 to 2, somewhat respectable. With 9:56 left in the third period I actually got a 10-minute misconduct that put me in the locker room for the remainder of the game. I was listening to the game in the last 10 minutes, while we were trailing 5-2. It was a different experience not sitting on the bench. The team made it 5-3 and Edmonton took a major penalty late in the game—Dave Lewis was high-sticked and now it was just a matter of were we going to have enough time. It was five seconds left when Steve Bozek tied the game to send the game into overtime. I think everyone learned to appreciate what we accomplished. At the time the adrenaline was flowing and I think once you get out there you believe anything can happen and then the miracle happened in overtime. The face off circles only had one hash mark to divide the players and to my credit I stepped away from, I believe it was Kevin Lowe who was the defender playing against me, to give myself a little room and it turned out to be a brilliant move because the puck came in just behind Doug Smith. I just went at the puck – shooting has always been one of the stronger parts of my game and I just kind of closed my eyes and let it go. It found a spot over Grant Fuhr’s shoulder and gave us the victory. It was an unbelievable feeling at that moment but I think I really learned to appreciate what was done as time has gone by.
Q: Were you superstitious before games? Any pre-game rituals?
Evans: I used to like to stay up late the night before a game just so during the day of the game I would be able to shut it down and relax. Pre-game meal was always a big steak – big, big steak – that’s what I prided myself in – I always felt good when I had that. Usually in the morning a lot of eggs and a little bit of a nap in the afternoon – get to the rink early, tape your sticks and get yourself mentally prepared. Things have changed a lot over the years as I watch the guys prepare now, there’s a little bit more game film. I wasn’t a bit of a stretcher at the time, probably something I should have done more of, but that was just a normal routine. I think the superstitions probably were the meal, the time that you go to the rink and as you’re going on the ice who you follow. I was usually towards the end—I was the back of the pack.
To read a Q and A with Kings fellow Kings alumnus Glen Murray go to http://kings.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=599861.