Kindl excited for new chance, new role, under new coach

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DETROIT >> If there was any player that needed a fresh start it could definitely be Jakub Kindl.

And he got that when his former coach, Mike Babcock, left for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Wings hired Jeff Blashill.

“When you look around, it’s not just me,” Kindl said. “I think we’re all on the same page. New coaching style, he’s got new plans, he’s got new visions. I’m just here to … again, let’s hope I have a bigger chance.

“I’m just trying to enjoy as much as I can,” Kindl continued. “I’ve been here long enough so I know what position I’m into. It’s a fresh start. It’s a new season for everybody, not just for me.”

Kindl could never seem to play his way out of Babcock’s doghouse the last two seasons with his lack of competitiveness always being cited as to the reason why many times he was a healthy scratch.

“I always try to have confidence, even when I wasn’t playing enough,” Kindl said. “Obviously, it wasn’t easy for me. You may think you have a good game and you still sit out for next time and just keep going back and forth. That was in the past. I’m just looking for a new challenge.”

A fine example of how things had gone for Kindl under Babcock came last season. After sitting out a month he returned for one game and registered a goal, an assist and was a plus-1. He was a healthy scratch the next nine games and didn’t make his way back into the lineup until the regular-season finale.

“How often (does) it happen a guy puts up two points or have a good game and the next thing you know he sits for 10 games,” Kindl said. “But that’s in the past. I don’t want to have that in my mind. I’m just excited for this new chance.”

Kindl, 28, also appeared in just one of the seven games in the first round playoff series with Tampa Bay, the series finale.

So far things appear to be heading in the right direction for Kindl, who’s battling for a spot on the third blue line pairing with Kyle Quincey and Brendan Smith. He’s got a goal, two assists and is a plus-2 in his first two preseason games.

“I think every year is different for every player, in both ways,” Blashill said. “Sometimes when it hasn’t gone as well there’s a chance to have a good year and vice versa.

“You can never rest on your laurels in this league because somebody is always chasing you from behind,” Blashill continued. “I think Kindl has good ability, he needs to continue to execute at a high level. He has so far.”

Kindl, who had a career-high five goals in just 35 games last year, is no stranger to getting power play time, averaging just under two minutes a game last season.

It’s on the penalty kill he’s beginning to learn the ropes on.

“I thought I already retired from the PK but no,” Kindl said. “It’s good. I understand we’re not going to have (Niklas Kronwall) and (Jonathan Ericsson) both play big minutes to make sure they don’t get hurt. I had the chance to play for a little bit but again, it’s good that Blash is giving me a chance to play, whether it’s the PK or the power play. It seems like he likes to play the players everywhere.”

Blashill has liked what he’s seen so far from Kindl.

“He’s made plays on the power play when there weren’t plays to be made,” Blashill said. “I think he’s done real good job. He’s gone back for pucks. But I think the biggest thing with Kindl is to get back to pucks and do a real good job of breaking the puck out, not that he can’t defend, but like lots of guys, you’re way better if you just get the puck out of your own zone.”

Kindl finished with 13 points last season.

“I always try to stay confident, even when I wasn’t playing in the past, but again, it’s not easy,” Kindl said. “So I know how to deal with those things. But again, I’m even more comfortable this year and coming to the rink even more relaxed than I did in the past and enjoying myself.”

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