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Category: Ryan Smyth

Kings GM Dean Lombardi says he's sorry for slamming Oilers

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Either hell has frozen over or Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi was afraid for his safety during the team's upcoming trip to Edmonton, but he offered an apology Thursday for the incendiary comments he made after he acquired an injured Colin Fraser for Ryan Smyth in a trade with the Oilers.

Trying to grant Smyth's trade request, Lombardi initially agreed to take Gilbert Brule for Smyth but backed off because of concerns over Brule's fitness. He then agreed to take Fraser, who eventually needed foot surgery and didn't make his Kings debut until Nov. 10.

The Kings filed a grievance with the NHL contending that the Oilers had misrepresented the extent of Fraser's injury and Lombardi let his temper flare.

“The bottom line for me, I would have rather invested my money with Bernie Madoff than invest in Edmonton’s word,” Lombardi told The Times.

The grievance was settled before a hearing and the Oilers paid an unspecified amount of money toward Fraser’s medical costs. Oiler and NHL executives were unhappy with Lombardi’s outspokenness, and Lombardi told Edmonton Team 1260 radio host Mark Spector on Thursday that frustration over Smyth’s trade request led him to speak without thinking.

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Kings trade Ryan Smyth to Edmonton for Colin Fraser, seventh-round pick

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The Kings on Sunday traded left wing Ryan Smyth to the Edmonton Oilers for forward Colin Fraser and a seventh-round pick in the 2012 entry draft, a move they made reluctantly and only after they reconfigured an offer from Edmonton that would have given them oft-injured forward Gilbert Brule.

The Kings thought they had a deal Friday but balked at taking Brule, contending the Oilers had not filed the proper paperwork certifying that Brule had been cleared to play following two concussions. Without that certification, the Kings would have been unable to trade, waive or demote him, as was their plan.

After the deal nearly fell apart entirely, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi and his Edmonton counterpart, Steve Tambellini, reworked ithe trade to include Fraser, who has one year left on his contract at $825,000.

I haven’t talked to Lombardi yet but he had indicated he hadn’t planned to keep Brule. I’ll ask what his plans are for Fraser, who had only two goals and five points in 67 games with the Oilers last season. That was a disappointment for Fraser, who had career highs of seven goals and 19 points with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009-10 when they won the Stanley Cup.

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NHL draft is done but Ryan Smyth trade isn't

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The NHL draft has ended, with 210 players from 14 countries being selected over two days at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

The Kings chose a goalie, two centers and three left wings. The Ducks left with the draft rights to a goalie, two centers, two defensemen, and two wingers.

According to the NHL, the breakdown by birthplace for the draft picks was 79 from Canada, 64 from the United States, 28 from Sweden, nine from Finland, eight from the Czech Republic, eight from Russia, four from Slovakia, two each from Germany, Norway and Switzerland, and one each from Denmark, France, Lithuania and Ukraine.

Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi told media from Edmonton, Canada, that the Ryan Smyth trade isn't done. The complicating factor remains that Gilbert Brule, whose contract the Kings were supposed to take to offset the Oilers' accepting Smyth's $6.25-million salary cap hit, is listed as having a concussion and isn't medically cleared to play. That puts in question whether he could be traded or waived, which is what the Kings intended to do. They'd also get a fifth-round draft pick for Smyth.

We’ll have more later, including conversations with executives from the Ducks and the Kings summing up their draft haul. Hoping for an update from Lombardi too.

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: The Kings' Ryan Smyth checks Nashville's Shea Weber into the boards as they battle for control of the puck during a game last season at Staples Center. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Kings are facing a faceoff problem

Photo: Kings defenseman Willie MItchell, left, and Drew Doughty clear the puck from the zone as Sharks winger Patrick Marleau lurks nearby in Game 3 of the NHL Western Conference quarterfinals at Staples Center Tuesday. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times
Faceoffs have been a thorny issue for the Kings in their first three playoff games against the San Jose Sharks, who have a 2-1 series lead entering Game 4 on Thursday night at Staples Center.

The Sharks were the NHL’s second-best faceoff team during the season with a 53.7% success rate, and they’ve improved on that in postseason play. Their 56.8% success rate (117-89) ranks first among the 16 playoff teams. The Kings ranked 10th in faceoff percentage this season at 51.1% but rank last among playoff teams with a 43.2% success rate.

The difference was dramatic in the Sharks’ monumental rally to win Game 3: San Jose won 39 of 64 faceoffs, or 61%. The NHL’s statistics system had Joe Pavelski as 11-6 on faceoffs and Joe Thornton as 15-7; Kings center Michal Handzus was 1-14, which isn’t characteristic.

“This is huge. This is a big, big thing,” Kings Coach Terry Murray said Thursday morning when asked about the faceoff disparity. "They’re a very good faceoff team. They do put pucks to the net and kind of arrive quickly to try to get a faceoff. That is part of the strategy. They’ll come across the center red line with a lot of speed and take a long shot to the net in hopes that maybe there might be a fumble, there might be a loose puck that you’d have to freeze....

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Kings' Murray wants to move on from Jason Demers hit

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Kings Coach Terry Murray, who was irate Friday that San Jose defenseman Jason Demers wasn’t punished for a high hit on Kings forward Ryan Smyth in Game 1 Thursday, declined to discuss it again Saturday.

“You know what, it’s time to turn the page. This is Game 2. Forget about it,” Murray said after the team’s morning skate at HP Pavilion.

“The game is over. There was a lot of competitive atmosphere there. There’s a lot of competitive play. It was a good game and this is now Game 2 and that’s the focus.”

Murray said Friday that Demers’ hit in the third period was “five times more severe a hit on Ryan Smyth than what Jarret Stoll’s hit is on [Ian] White,” and compared it to a hit by Steve Downie four years ago that drew a 20-game suspension from the NHL.

“All I know is that other hit is five times more severe, more intent, traveling distance, launching yourself 2 to 3 feet off the ice and a blow to the head. That is a major, long-time suspension,” Murray said of the Demers hit, which occurred early in the third period.

Murray’s remarks were reviewed by the NHL but it’s believed he was not fined.

Smyth said he wasn't injured by the hit and hadn't looked at a replay. “At the time, on the ice, I thought it was a high hit,” he said. “Obviously, it wasn’t called so … things happen.”

A league executive who wasn’t authorized to comment publicly said Demers’ hit should have been a minor penalty and that a couple of other hits in the game probably should have led to penalties as well.

Demers, as could be expected, said his rising hit on Smyth didn’t merit punishment.

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Kings can clinch playoff spot with win at San Jose

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Because the Ducks’ loss to Dallas on Sunday prevented the Kings from clinching a playoff spot, the Kings will have a chance to take that final step themselves Monday, when they face the Sharks in San Jose.

“Win and we’re in,” winger Ryan Smyth said, “and then we can climb.”

The Kings’ magic number for clinching their second straight postseason berth is two: They must earn two points or Dallas must fail to earn two. The Stars next play on Tuesday, at home against Columbus.

The Kings held an optional morning skate Monday at HP Pavilion. Coach Terry Murray said afterward that he had watched the Ducks lose to Dallas on Sunday night but is more concerned with his own team's efforts.

“I think you always have to look at games that way. You want to take care of your own business and do your thing the right way,” he said.

There’s no difference, he said, in having another team’s result take care of the magic number or having his own team do it.

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Kings' Drew Doughty gets two goals on his day off

Drew Doughty picked up two goals Thursday -- and he didn't even have to go on the ice to do it.

At the Kings' request, NHL officials studied replays from the team's first two goals in Wednesday's 3-1 win over Edmonton, then took the scores away from Ryan Smyth and gave them to Doughty, who was originally credited with assists on a pair of blistering one-timers from the top of the left face-off circle.

Smyth admitted after the game that he didn't touch the puck either time, a confession that played a big role in the scoring change, a Kings official said.

-- Kevin Baxter in Calgary, Canada

 

 

Kings vs. Boston: Kings win second in a row, 2-0

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Goals by Ryan Smyth and Andrei Loktionov and a brilliant game in goal by Jonathan Quick lifted the Kings to a 2-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on Monday night before a Staples Center sellout crowd of 18,118.

The win, coupled with Saturday's victory in Phoenix, gave the Kings back-to-back wins for the first time since Dec. 26-27. The Kings have lost 10 of 14 since then.

Smyth opened the scoring midway through the first period by knocking home his own rebound 34 seconds into a Kings power play. Then after a pair of clutch saves by Quick kept Boston from tying the score on a power play of its own in the opening minutes of the third period, Loktionov pushed another rebound past Boston goaltender Tim Thomas at 3:30 for his second goal of the season, giving the Kings some much-needed insurance.

And the Kings nearly got one more with 6:39 to play but Kyle Clifford, after taking a perfect pass in the slot, whiffed on a wide-open shot.

In recording his first shutout in nearly a month -- and the 13th of his career -- Quick faced 34 shots, the first time in eight games the Kings have allowed that many. The Kings also took 34 shots at Thomas.

Kings 2, Bruins 0 (end of second period)

The Kings peppered Tim Thomas with 12 shots in the second period but couldn't get any of them past the Boston goaltender, forcing them to be content with a 1-0 lead heading into the second intermission.

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Kings' lines shaken ... but will they be stirred?

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Even for Terry Murray, this was a major shakeup.

The Kings’ coach, known for frequently mixing his lines, revamped the top three trios in practice Wednesday and will use the new configurations Thursday at Staples Center against the Nashville Predators.

“The blender’s out, eh?” left wing Ryan Smyth said, smiling.

Shaking things up in hopes of stirring the Kings out of a four-game losing streak, Murray came up with these lines:

Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar-Wayne Simmonds

Smyth-Michal Handzus-Justin Williams

Kyle Clifford-Jarret Stoll-Marco Sturm

The fourth line will be the same, with Brad Richardson, Trevor Lewis and Kevin Westgarth. Left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky is almost ready to return from the ankle injury he sustained Dec. 26, but he won’t play Thursday. The defense pairs will stay the same.

“As I said to the players this morning in our meeting, 39 games and we’re four games now that we have not won. It’s time for a change,” Murray said. “There’s been some very good games, some great team effort, some great line looks this year, but right now we need to get some attention back. I think we just got away from some of the details of the game and that to me is that emotional connection to the game for 60 minutes.

“We’re doing a great job for 40, 45 minutes. We’re outshooting teams and looking at our scoring chances against that we do every game, we’ve got a wide margin on that one. The bottom line is winning games and that’s why I’m changing up some things.”

A few points: Handzus normally centers the shutdown line, but Murray said he wants Handzus to contribute offensively. Interesting considering the Slovakian center’s goal against Chicago on Monday was his first in 20 games and only his fifth this season.

“It felt even longer. I was surprised only 20 games,” said Handzus, who recalled playing with Smyth a few times on the power play last season but played alongside Williams when both were Flyers.

“If you play with those guys I’m sure it’s going to be a more offensive role. I’m not going to change my two-way game but I’ve got to produce more for sure.”

Murray said Handzus has played a more offense-oriented role in the past and can do it again. “He’s got a pretty good history of being a player who’s played and made pretty good plays,” Murray said. “So I’m going to give him an opportunity with still respect to the checking part of the game, to play with two players who are having good years on the offensive part of it. I think that they can build on the offensive part of the game with Zeus in the middle. He’s a pretty creative guy, he thinks that part of it. He’s got pretty good hands to make plays and I’m going to give it a look for a little while.”

Murray said he was reluctant to switch Brown from right wing, where he has thrived, to left wing but felt compelled to do something. It has been obvious that Sturm, who had major knee surgery last May, isn’t physically ready to become the productive top-line left wing the Kings hoped he would be.

“I think that Marco’s still going through training camp. I think he’s behind the play,” Murray said. “There’s a little bit too many situations where there’s too much space between him and the puck and the support is not where it needs to be right now. So I’m going to back away on it and put him in a situation where he can keep getting his game conditioning and his legs under him and still play in the game and have a little more responsibility with Stoll and with Clifford as that line that’s going to match up on the checking part of things.”

Also, Jonathan Bernier will start in goal. He has recorded two of his four victories this season against Nashville.

Check www.latimes.com/sports later for more.

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Kings coach Terry Murray. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press.

Final in Nashville: Kings 6, Predators 1, Ponikarovsky out of the chateau de bow-wow

Kings Coach Terry Murray was so unhappy with Alexei Ponikarovsky’s play Thursday that he demoted the winger to the fourth line and—worse—wouldn’t refer to him by name. In explaining why he put Kyle Clifford in Ponikarovsky’s old spot Murray spoke of him as “the other player on that left side.”

Ponikarovsky undoubtedly won back his name and his coach’s respect Saturday with an energetic performance in the Kings’ 6-1 rout of the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

Ponikarovsky, playing effectively with Trevor Lewis and Kevin Westgarth, was one of seven Kings to score two points in the game. Ryan Smyth led the way with two goals. The only forwards who didn’t join the romp were team scoring leader Anze Kopitar and Clifford, an unusual double, to be sure.

The Kings’ four-goal first period—the first time they’ve scored four in a period this season—provided plenty of support to goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Starting for the first time since Nov. 24 at Montreal, Bernier earned only his third victory this season and second over the unusually meek Predators. He also beat them once last season in Nashville, so the Kings might consider lobbying for the Predators to be moved to the Pacific Division so they could meet more often.

The Kings, 2-1 on this five-game trip, next play at Chicago on Sunday. Jonathan Quick is scheduled to be back in net at the United Center.

More later at www.latimes.com/sports
Helene Elliott in Nashville


 

Drew Doughty, Teemu Selanne lead the local teams in NHL All-Star voting

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The overall vote leader in the NHL's All-Star balloting is no surprise: Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins (pictured above). After two weeks of online voting, he now has 218,791 votes. 

The nicest surprise? The guy who jumped up to second place while no one was looking. That would be Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, whose 145,726 votes are the most among write-in candidates. That's right. Write-in. Price has been outstanding in goal so far this season.

Tampa Bay's scoring machine Steven Stamkos is third with 141,818 votes.  More than 6 million votes have been cast through last weekend.

But what about the Kings and Ducks?

Teemu Selanne is doing the best among Ducks with 25,545 votes. Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry aren't far behind him, though. Noteworthy write-in totals: goaltender Jonas Hiller has 9,791, Lubomir Visnovsky 7,137 and Cam Fowler 6,938.

The Kings?

Drew Doughty is leading the way with 94,606. Anze Kopitar has 31,923, while the very deserving Ryan Smith has 16,465. Noteworthy is team scoring leader Justin Williams as a write-in candidate with 8,486. Jonathan Quick comes in ninth among goaltenders with 40,140, while defenseman Jack Johnson has 12,871 write-in votes.

But it really makes you wonder what is going on when former Kings player Sean Avery (he currently ranks third in the league for penalty minutes) of the New York Rangers has 38,551 write-in votes. Even as a joke, this isn't funny.

Through Jan. 3, NHL fans will be able to select up to six players by position -- three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender -– without regard to the conference in which their teams play.

As part of a new format for the 2011 All-Star game, the three forwards, two defensemen and goalie with the most votes will be named first NHL All-Stars. Want to vote? Click here. Meanwhile, here are

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