Jarret Stoll is having a blast this season.
The former LA Kings center, who helped the team win two Stanley Cups, is back on team broadcasts as an analyst for the second straight year - mostly appearing alongside host Patrick O'Neal and fellow analyst Sean O'Donnell.
He's also working with Player Development, trying to help the Kings get the most out of their young prospects.
"I love both (roles). Just preparing for the telecast, everything is so different with different teams coming in with different lineups, there's just a different storyline for every game. I love getting ready for that," Stoll said.
"For Player Development, I love watching hockey, seeing kids play, getting on the ice with them, seeing them improve and seeing them eventually get called up."
Video: Jarret Stoll is interviewed during the rookie game
Last season, Stoll dipped his toe into both worlds. He started mid-season with the Kings in both positions, while he tried to find a full-time position in the NHL. This year, Stoll is retired and his role is a little more formalized and he said he feels more comfortable.
"It's awesome to still work for the team that you played for and that you loved playing for; that gave you an opportunity to win a Stanley Cup," he said.
We talked with Stoll recently about how this season is going for him, how he's handling his jobs with the Kings and what it was like trying to properly explain Tyler Toffoli's miracle OT goal at the Boston Bruins from earlier in the year.
LAKings.com: What was it like trying to explain that Toffoli goal? It all seemed to happen so quickly and you and Patrick O'Neal did an excellent job of digesting it and then telling fans what happened and how it happened when the broadcast cut to both of you …
Jarret Stoll: I think we knew they were coming to us quick, but we didn't care. We were so shocked and just surprised at everything that was going on. We were kind of just flustered. The camera came on us, but we didn't really care. I don't think I had my jacket on just yet. It was one of those moments where you couldn't believe it. It was exciting for us. We were trying to figure out who the shooters would be in the shootout and I was telling Patrick it was going to be the same shooters we won the shootout with in Ottawa the night before. He was like, 'Yeah, that's a good call.' And then, the puck went in the net.
On a broadcast, how do you properly do justice something so rare like an OT goal off a face-off with under one second left?
When you go through similar experiences playing so long and you've gone through a lot of different games and types of games, different situations that happened good or bad, you kind of get a feel for it a little bit better. I think I can get a feel for what happened or is happening over the course of a game and the type of game it is. Stuff like that, I think, it's easier for me to talk about because I've lived a lot of those situations. That's what I try to bring across as well because I know the listeners want to hear stuff, whether it's inside information or not, it's kind of from somebody that's been through it and has experience with it. I'm not always going back to my career all the time (with my explanations), but it's just like talking in a sense of having been through it and kind of explaining it that way a little bit and explaining it in an easier way for maybe people to understand it better.
What has the enjoyment level been like for you this year doing broadcast? Seems like you all like to keep it loose and keep it fun.
I love it. I love working with Patrick. He's a great, great host. He's great at what he does. He has been doing it for so long. He's a pro. He makes it look so easy and he makes it easy for me. We're having a great time - just keeping it casual, keeping it low-key and just keep it loose. We don't want to be up tight. I don't think you bring out your personality that way. We just want to keep it loose and keep it fun. If people are noticing and realizing we're having fun and doing our jobs, that's great.
Are you more comfortable in your second year with this arrangement on broadcast?
I think the more you do it, the more experience you get, the more comfortable and easier I think it's going to be. I also watch my games back and see what I can do differently, what I've done well and what I need to continue to do well and what I need to work on. You can always get better - whether you're playing hockey or whatever job or career you're in, you can always try to get better and improve things so I think I'm better than last year. I think I can get a lot better. I know I screw up sometimes, especially when Bailey's there beside me like a few broadcasts ago (laughs).
Did you do any work in the offseason on broadcast?
When you watch - whether it's SportsCenter or NHL Network - anything that's explaining the game or going through highlights or analysis and stuff like that, you just try to pay attention to people and how they do it. If something looks good or something looks bad or looks off that I notice, I just try to keep a mental note of that. But just watching certain guys and being honest with your feedback, like watching my games over … I don't watch them all over again, but some of them here and there to realize what I need to get better at and I try to do that.
You're also doing more work with Player Development. What's your day like going back and forth with both?
It's busy. I'm not doing every broadcast so that, I think, helps me and allows me to do the Player Development stuff. I'm in Denver now seeing one of our prospects for the weekend so you have certain trips like that. Last weekend I was in Spokane seeing a player. Whenever the Ontario Reign are playing that I can make I game out there I'll catch a game there. Then with the Kings games when they're playing, if I can do it, I still love to go to the games and watch the guys play, so there are a lot of things going on. It's scheduling, It's the Kings' schedule, the Ontario Reign's schedule and then you have all our prospects' schedules and try to work it around that, but I love to be busy and around the game with doing the broadcasts and doing the player development. You're right around the game and right around the organization, which is where I want to be.
It seems more structured this year than last year, right?
I think it's structured more now and, mentally, you kind of know what you got and you know what kind of your second career is so to speak. This is the kind of stuff I wanted to do when I was done playing. I'm lucky and thankful to get an opportunity to go into it so quickly and try to do the best I can at it. It's nice to do my schedule, like, 'This is what my role is. This is what my job description is' and do it the best I can.
You get to stay with the Kings too, a place where you had a lot of success.
Looking back on my career, I had some great times in some great cities and played on some really, really good teams. Edmonton was a special a time in my career as well, but any time you win two Stanley Cups and go to the conference finals, with the memories and the friends and how well the organization has treated me … I guess I've been in LA now 10 years. It's home now. I've lived here since day one. I have a house here so I don't intend on living anywhere else and I want to put all my hard work into the organization. That's kind of what my mindset is right now.