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Versatile Richardson ready for anything

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Goaltenders Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier probably don’t have much to worry about, but Kings forward Brad Richardson is ready to strap on the pads if necessary, a fact he mentioned to Coach Terry Murray.

“I told Terry about a week ago, ‘I was a pretty good roller hockey goalie so if you ever need me for a third-stringer I’d be available,’” Richardson said. “He said he’d need to see me in practice first.”

Murray probably won’t have to take him up on the offer, but Richardson’s versatility has been useful and will come into play again during the month that left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky is expected to miss after breaking a finger.

Richardson will move into Ponikarovsky’s spot Thursday night alongside Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds, bringing his energy and scrappiness to the third line. He has played left wing on the first, second and fourth lines and has centered the fourth line too.

“It’s a role that I’m having a good time doing. It’s good to be able to fill in where I can,” he said Thursday after the Kings’ morning skate in El Segundo.

“I’m excited about tonight to play with Zeus and Simmer. They’ve been a great line for us all year so it should be a lot of fun.”

Richardson said he expects an easy transition to his new line.

“You just play the same game. That’s what Terry says to me, play the same way whatever line you’re on,” he said. “I’ve played with both players before, a little more with [Simmonds]. So I know what we do. I’m sure we’re going to have no trouble adjusting.”

Murray said he has no hesitation putting Richardson anywhere — except in goal. He’d make a phone call to the Kings’ Manchester farm team before he’d do that.

“Richie’s been very good for us going back through last year even. His game really came on and came together,” Murray said. “There’s a lot of things that I like about it, with speed and tenacity, and he has offensive ability and that’s where he gets to move up with [Anze] Kopitar at the end of the year last year.

“Those players are so invaluable to the team. You really can’t state the importance of it, to have players that are flexible and can play those kinds of positions.”

Ponikarovsky and defenseman Willie Mitchell (fractured left wrist) have been working out off the ice at the team’s practice facility — and unlike the policy enforced during the Andy Murray era, they’re allowed to mix with their teammates.

When Murray coached the team he ordered injured players to get early treatment and be gone by the time their teammates took to the ice, on the theory that seeing the injured players would somehow be a distraction to those still playing. Murray doesn’t subscribe to that theory.

“I think it’s important to be part of the team. They are part of the team,” he said. “I don’t mind actually if you go away and the players are getting fairly close to coming back you bring them on the road and work out with the team and go out to dinner with the guys.

“You want to keep it together. Coming in and working out as the team in here I think is a good thing. It shows work ethic and that they’re hungry to get themselves back and play the game, and they have been working very hard the last couple of days.”

One last note about Thursday’s game: Ryan Smyth will be honored before the game for having played his 1,000th NHL game Saturday. The festivities will include a video tribute, a crystal award to be presented by NHL executive Jim Gregory, a gift from his teammates to be presented by captain Dustin Brown, and a silver stick to be presented by General Manager Dean Lombardi.

Smyth’s wife, Stacey, and children Isabella, Elizabeth and Alexander are scheduled to join him for the on-ice ceremony.

More later when the Kings, who have a four-game winning streak and 6-0-0 home record, face the Stars.

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Dallas Stars left wing Jamie Benn, 14, tries to control the puck between Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, 11, and Los Angeles Kings center Brad Richardson, 15,  at the American Airlines Center on Oct. 28. Credit: Matt Strasen / US Presswire.

 
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