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Sturm to make Kings debut, Richardson moves to first line, and farewell to a fellow scribe

Greetings from Denver, where it’s sunny and around 50 degrees in late December. Which is a lot better than the blizzard that struck when the Kings were here the last weekend of last season….

The Marco Sturm Era will begin tonight. Coach Terry Murray said he plans to get the newly acquired left wing onto the fourth line, likely with Trevor Lewis at center and Alexei Ponikarovsky on the right side. Brad Richardson, who had a hat trick in his last game here, on Oct. 23, will start on the top line with Anze Kopitar at center and Dustin Brown back on right wing.

Murray had planned to put Sturm on the Kopitar line but changed his mind.

“After the last few days of him practicing and speaking with him, I think it’s important to just get him into a game and get him going a little bit, without putting, I don’t want to say too much, pressure on or too many expectations of performing at peak level with Kopi,” Murray said Monday. “So I’m just going to put him on that fourth line on the left side and get some minutes in, get some shifts in, start to feel the game again and get his legs under him in some game situations.”

He will keep the effective Kyle Clifford-Michal Handzus-Wayne Simmonds line intact and will put Justin Williams back with Ryan Smyth and Jarret Stoll. “Hopefully they can catch fire again and get it going with the offensive part of the game,” Murray said.

Jonathan Quick will start in goal.

Murray’s message to the team Monday in Denver centered on the need for consistency within games and complete performances.

“Certainly against a team like Chicago, the champions, you’ve got to make sure you’re on top of your game every shift, and I thought we let it slip there in the second period,” he said, referring to the Kings’ 3-2 loss at Chicago on Sunday. “We gave them several opportunities and they capitalized on it. We’ve got to get back to an ‘A’ game [Tuesday] with Colorado winning six in a row. They’re playing good. We’re going to have to check well, and we have to get some things going on the offensive part of it again.”

From the Kings comes this note: head athletic trainer Chris Kingsley -- known as "Kinger" -- will work his 1,000th professional game Tuesday.

One more note, and a sad one: Graig Woodburn, who wrote about hockey for the Riverside Press-Enterprise, the Associated Press and more recently weei.com, died Sunday of pancreatic cancer. He was 50 and had moved from California to Boston to be near family during his illness.

To cover hockey you really have to love it and he did — he played the game and was thrilled to be writing about it even though his “real job” was practicing law. His daughter, Lauren, planned to attend the Ducks’ game Monday night at Boston in his honor.

Rest in peace, Graig.

-- Helene Elliott, in Denver.

 
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