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Enforcer Westgarth a nice tough guy

September 30, 2010 |  7:34 pm

Westgarth_300 Off the ice, hockey enforcers tend to be among the most articulate and interesting people you’ll ever meet.

Kevin Westgarth, who will replace Raitis Ivanans as the Kings’ resident tough guy, is a Princeton graduate with a degree in psychology. Westgarth, who signed with the Kings as a free agent in 2007, blogged for The Hockey News last season and provided interesting insights into life in the minor leagues.

He used his fists to make a statement Tuesday in fighting Ducks enforcer George Parros, a fellow Princeton alum with a finance degree and a sometime Fabulous Forum blogger. According to The Sporting News, Parros is the fourth-smartest athlete in sports — and a South Bay neighbor of Westgarth’s.

The next night, they went out to dinner. Of course.

Westgarth said Thursday that he doesn't have the athletic bragging rights in his own household. He gave that honor to his fiancée, Meagan Cowher, daughter of former Pittsburgh Steelers coach Bill Cowher. The couple met at Princeton, where she played basketball and led the Ivy League in scoring twice and was the first player in the program to be a first-team all-league selection three times. They’ve set a wedding date for next summer.

“She’s actually the real athlete of the family. She’s the best player,” he said. “I’m looking forward to having kids and retiring on what they end up doing.”

Fourth line still has spots open

Kings Coach Terry Murray said he’s still deciding who will join Westgarth on the fourth line. Brad Richardson was slotted there until second-line left wing Scott Parse injured his groin and toe but Richardson lately has moved up alongside Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams. The fourth line in Thursday’s practice was Kyle Clifford, Brayden Schenn and Westgarth.

Richard Clune, Trevor Lewis, Andrei Loktionov and John Zeiler took turns on another line and remain in the mix for spots. Schenn and Clifford are 19 and would have to go back to their junior teams if they don’t make the Kings’ roster.

“With the young players still here, Schenn, Loktionov, I clearly want to use them while they’re here,” Murray said. “Clune and Zeiler and Lewis are here and I’ve got to play around with that and try to get the best looks that I possibly can.”

He said Clifford is “a 19-year-old in a man’s body,” and praised Clifford’s power and exceptionally good conditioning. “He’s a fearless guy. He’s a gritty guy,” Murray said. “He’s impressive. He’s very impressive for his age.

“Last year I look back and I remember he ran out of gas in the latter part of training camp. And this year he seems to be getting stronger, so he's physically maturing and he’s blending in, in all of the drills. He listens well. He’s a player on the rise, obviously, and we’re excited to have him in the organization.”

Murray also said he expects to start the season with one extra defenseman and two extra forwards, or seven and 14, respectively. “I think as an organization in general we prefer one in each spot and let the other guys play if they’re younger players,” he said. “But we have to get to that point real soon here."

On the air and on the web

Some webcast/broadcast notes for the Kings’ and Ducks’ final exhibition games:

The Ducks’ game against Vancouver on Friday at the Honda Center will air on the NHL Network. The radio broadcast can be heard through www.AnaheimDucks.com.

The Kings’ game at Las Vegas on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche will be broadcast on KTLK 1150 but will not be live-streamed.

There will be a live video webcast of the Ducks-Kings game on Sunday at the Honda Center, available at www.anaheimducks.com and www.foxsportswest.com. It will also be on radio at KLAA 830 and KTLK 1150.

Starting Saturday, PRIME TICKET HD will air “Ducks Live: 2010-11 Season Preview Special.” It will be repeated several times, including Saturday at 10:30 p.m. (following the Dodgers-Diamondbacks game), Sunday at 4:30 p.m., Monday at 2 p.m., Tuesday at 10 p.m., Wednesday at 9:30 p.m., Thursday at 10 p.m., next Friday at 6:30 p.m., after the Ducks’ season opener at Detroit—which will air at 4 p.m.--and  Oct. 9 at 10 p.m.

--Helene Elliott

Photo: Kevin Westgarth takes the ice before an exhibition game two years ago. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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