Sprained thumb, broken wrist...and then there's the Kings' emotional wounds
Two things are sure to happen within a few days of an NHL team’s final game: Players shave their playoff beards and the truth comes out about the injuries they’ve dealt with for varying lengths of time.
Most of the Kings were clean-shaven Tuesday as they began their exit interviews and season wrapup with the coaches and trainers at the team's El Segundo practice facility, and it emerged that more than a few were playing hurt during the team’s six-game playoff loss to Vancouver.
Peter Harrold broke his wrist in Game 3 and couldn’t return, and Drew Doughty—who had a spectacular series to end a remarkable season—had a variety of injuries. The most significant one, Coach Terry Murray said, is a thumb injury the Norris trophy finalist sustained in Game 1.
Doughty said Tuesday he will undergo an MRI exam and won’t play for Canada in the upcoming World Championships because he wants to make sure the injury, which is believed to be a sprain, can fully heal.
Team captain Dustin Brown said he won’t play for Team USA at the World Championships because he’s facing the first of several planned bone-graft operations intended to keep his teeth in his mouth.
Murray also said goaltender Jonathan Quick had a shoulder issue after someone fell on him in the crease, and that winger Richard Clune had a nerve problem in his shoulder after falling during a fight.
There were others, but Murray said he couldn’t remember them all. “Being banged up is a good thing. You’ve got to pay a price in order to play the game and you go through hard times, difficult games,” he said. “You put yourself in tough situations to score, tough areas, and you’re going to come away at the end of the game with ice bags on.”
After having a few days to think about it, Murray and his players still believe their season ended sooner than it should have.
“No, I’m not satisfied at all. I thought we would be more consistent. I thought we would be better. I thought we could upset that team. I thought we could win the series,” Murray said.
“I’m really proud of the guys and what they did in the regular season and playoffs. I’m very proud of the effort. They paid attention. They worked hard. They competed. They took it to a level some of them had never been to before but we’re not satisfied. I’m not satisfied with it. We have a lot of work to do and we can’t take our foot off the gas pedal for too long here now that it’s over.”
Defenseman Jack Johnson, who said he will represent the U.S. at the World Championships, said he realizes expectations for the Kings will be higher next season, and so will the players’ expectations for themselves.
“They should be. Just making the playoffs isn’t good enough. That shouldn’t be a goal for anyone. The goal is to win the whole thing. That’s why you play,” he said. “Just because you made the playoffs one year doesn’t mean things are hunky-dory. Expectations should be building every year. Truthfully, expectations should be the Stanley Cup….
“You have to expect to make the playoffs. Half the league makes the playoffs. We should be in the playoffs.”
They were in but now they’re out, and most players said they don’t care much now who wins. Most said they’ll catch some games on TV, but center Michal Handzus said he’s not ready for that yet.
“I might in the later rounds. Right now I didn’t have the stomach to watch it [Monday],” he said.
More later at www.latimes.com/sports
--- Helene Elliott
Photo: Kings defenseman Peter Harrold controls the puck in front of New Jersey Devils forward Jay Pandolfo during a game on Jan. 10, 2009. Credit: Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times