Dustin Penner the prime attraction at Kings' morning skate in Edmonton
The main attraction Tuesday at the Kings’ morning skate at Rexall Place was left wing Dustin Penner, who was traded by the Oilers to the Kings on Feb. 28. There were at least a dozen reporters, photographers and cameras around him -- which meant that Jarret Stoll, another former Oiler who’s usually mobbed when the Kings come here, had no reporters visiting his locker stall.
“I’m old news,” Stoll said, laughing.
Penner, who is scoreless in his last five games after recording points in six straight games, said he’s enjoying his new surroundings.
“It’s been a welcome change, just a different intensity you have because you’re in the playoffs and every game you’re fighting for your life,” said Penner, who has only two goals and six points in 12 games with the Kings. “I haven’t been a part of that in four years.”
He also said he knows he will be asked to score more now that Justin Williams (shoulder) and Anze Kopitar (ankle) are out of the lineup.
“Those minutes can be spread among our team and everybody’s got an opportunity to be successful and contribute,” he said. “I think it falls more on the veteran guys than the younger guys.”
Penner falls into the veteran category now. “He’s a skill player and he’s got a nice upside to his game,” Coach Terry Murray said. “We’re going to play him in a lot of critical situations, important minutes, and give him the opportunity to show us that he can get the job done.”
Murray also said he hasn’t decided who will wear the alternate captain’s “A” now that Kopitar is facing surgery and gone indefinitely.
“I’ll look at a couple of the veteran players and talk with the coaching staff and decide by this evening,” he said.
One more note: Oilers radio broadcaster Rod Phillips will end his 37-year career by calling Tuesday’s game. Phillips, who called Oilers’ games during their World Hockey Assn. days, will be honored during a pregame ceremony.
“When I started I wasn’t thinking about lasting 37 years. I was thinking I’ve got to try to get through the next five minutes of the first period of that first game,” said Phillips, who received the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Foster Hewitt award for excellence in broadcasting in 2003.
“It’s just been great fun.”
To Kings TV play-by-play announcer Bob Miller, who won the Foster Hewitt award in 2000, Phillips is a mere kid at age 69. Miller is 72.
“I always looked forward to talking to Rod whenever the Kings and Oilers played over the years,” Miller said. “He’s the greatest guy to tell a joke to -- he’s got the greatest laugh of all time. We had a lot of fun.”
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-- Helene Elliott in Edmonton, Canada
Photo: Dustin Penner. Credit: Claus Andersen / Getty Images