Kings' Jeff Halpern happy to be in Nashville; Fredrik Modin arrives in time for morning skate
When players are traded during the season, one of the major adjustments they usually need to make is being away from their families for extended periods. For newly acquired forward Jeff Halpern, his trade to the Kings actually brought him close to family, albeit briefly, thanks to the team’s schedule.
After learning of his trade Wednesday from the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Kings, Halpern boarded a flight for Nashville to meet his new teammates, who play the Predators on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena.
Nashville is not only home to the Predators, though. It is also home to Halpern’s sister, Jennifer, a physician and assistant professor of orthopedics rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Unfortunately, because of his late arrival in Music City, he didn't get to spend much time with his sister -- aside from grabbing a ride from her.
“I was so tired,” Halpern said. “She pretty much picked me up at the airport and dropped me off at the hotel. I didn’t get in until about 11.”
Halpern said his sister and her family would be at Thursday night’s game.
“We were here once earlier in the year," he said, referring to when he was with Tampa Bay, "and I think she is always excited when we get to play here.”
Jennifer will get another opportunity to see him play this month when the Kings return for a game March 30.
New jersey number too
In addition to getting used to playing with new teammates, Halpern will have to adjust to a new jersey number for the first time in his NHL career. Halpern, a veteran of 704 NHL games with Washington, Dallas, and Tampa Bay, has always worn No. 11. Since that number is worn by Anze Kopitar, Halpern will now sport No. 22.
“They have a pretty good 11 here,” Halpern joked.“I’ve always said the NHL is such a special place to play, as long as you’ve got a locker and a number, you are pretty happy.”
An air of excitement
After Thursday’s morning skate, Halpern and forward Fredrik Modin used the same word to describe their feeling about being traded to Los Angeles: excited.
“I was excited,” Halpern said. “Everyone in the league is impressed with the way this team has played all year.”
“They are a young team, but they are playing tremendous hockey,” he said. "It’s hectic those last few minutes before the deadline. It was a new experience. I’m thrilled and excited to be here with this group of guys.”
Modin, who will wear his familiar No. 33 with the Kings, was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday for a conditional seventh-round pick. He arrived in Nashville Thursday in time to participate in the morning skate.
Kings Coach Terry Murray is happy both players are now with the Kings.
“They are really good adds to our hockey club, two veteran hockey players who have established themselves in this league fit in because of being really good people, outstanding people in fact,” he said.
Murray said Halpern would center the team’s fourth line Thursday night with Modin on left wing and Scott Parse on the right side. He said the team’s top three lines would remain intact.
-- Jim Diamond in Nashville