Now a veteran on the LA Kings roster, defenseman Sean Walker reflects on his NHL debut and how other veterans made him feel welcome.
It wasn’t too long ago that a 23-year-old Sean Walker made his NHL debut with the LA Kings. Walker went undrafted out of Bowling Green, captaining the Falcons in his junior and senior seasons on campus. In his first year with the Reign, the blueliner cut his teeth, accumulating seven goals and 21 assists in 64 games during the 2017-18 season. The Keswick, Ontario, native signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Kings in July 2018 after playing the previous season on an AHL contract
The following year, Walker was promoted from Ontario early in the season, making his debut on October 23. He recorded an assist while logging 13:05 TOI against the Dallas Stars. Walker would play in 39 games with the Kings that season, tallying three goals and 10 points in 39 games and credited acclimating to the NHL to several of the veterans on the LA Kings roster.
“That first time you get called up, you’re pretty nervous,” Walker told Dave McCarthy of SiriusXM NHL Network Radio. “You definitely know a couple of younger guys at the time. I knew [Michael] Amadio, [Paul] LaDue. I [also] knew [Adrian] Kempe and [Alex] Iafallo, so I would hang out with those guys. But I think within the first week I was called up, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and Dion Phaneuf invited me to go golf with them. So, that was wild to me that these guys, that have been in the league forever, invited me to go golf.”
Walker will turn 27 in November, and he finds himself as one of the established veterans along the blueline. Along with Doughty and newly-signed Alex Edler, Walker is now on the opposite end of the spectrum entering the 2021-22 season, with Phillip Danault and Viktor Arvidsson finding new homes and several members of the prospect pool looking to carve out full-time roles at the NHL level. And he’s ready to help out wherever he can so the team can get off to a positive start.
“That’s huge, for sure, and then you just feel comfortable around everybody, and you just get focused on your game,” Walker said of what being included in off-ice activities can do to make a young player feel welcome. “I think that’s a big part of it, and hopefully, we can do that this year and get off without a hitch.”