Happy New Year reading (my favorite Kings and Ducks stories from 2015)


I’ve picked out three of my favorite stories from 2015. Hope you enjoy reading them (or re-reading them) as much as I did reporting and writing them:

On the AHL’s successful migration into California for 2015-16:


On the Kings’ remarkable marketing success in the wake of Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and ’14:


On the enormous but silent presence of Teemu Selanne hanging over the Ducks-Winnipeg Jets first-round playoff series:


Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler sidelined by sprained right knee

Defenseman Cam Fowler suffered a sprained right knee during the first period of the Ducks’ 4-2 victory Sunday over the Philadelphia Flyers at the Honda Center. The Ducks couldn’t say Monday how long he might be sidelined, however. They did say they expect to learn more about his layoff later in the week. He wasn’t immediately placed on IR, and wasn’t available for comment Monday.

“I think we all consider him one of our top defensemen,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said before the team left Monday for a three-game trip to play the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks. “You lose him for any length of time, and I don’t know what the time-frame is, it’s going to hurt.”

Fowler scored three goals and 12 points with a minus-11 defensive rating in 34 games before he was injured. He had an assist on Ryan Getzlaf’s power-play goal in the first period Sunday, but could not finish the game.

The Ducks recalled defenseman Shea Theodore from San Diego of the AHL.

Ducks recall defenseman Shea Theodore from their AHL team in San Diego

The San Diego Gulls were on their way back home from a fight-filled 4-1 loss to the Bakersfield Condors in an AHL game Sunday, but they had to make a detour off I-5 to drop defenseman Shea Theodore off at an Anaheim hotel. The Ducks recalled Theodore on Monday to replace an injured Cam Fowler.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said “there’s a good chance” the 20-year-old would make his NHL debut during a three-game trip to Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Theodore, a first-round draft pick in 2013 (26th overall), has been recalled twice already by the Ducks. He hasn’t made his debut yet, however.

“I feel like I’ve been playing pretty strong,” Theodore said. “It would be awesome to get in the lineup. Hopefully, I’m able to do that.”

Theodore scored four goals and 16 points in 27 games with the Gulls this season.

The reports on Theodore have been very positive, according to Boudreau.

“He’s been a very good quarterback on the power play,” Boudreau said of Theodore. “That’s been his strength his whole life. He practiced with us a few weeks back and it gave him a litle taste of it. If he plays, I think he’ll do well.”



Game report: Ducks 4, Flyers 2

Key play: Corey Perry avoided a check along the right-wing boards, skated toward the Philadelphia Flyers’ net and then beat Steve Mason with the go-ahead goal 58 seconds into the third period to send the Ducks to a 4-2 victory Sunday at the Honda Center.

Pivotal performer: Perry scored two goals, his team-leading 12th and 13th, and made a pest of himself from the opening minutes. He ignited a fracas 4:29 into the first period after getting tangled up with Mason at the side of the goalie’s net.

Milestone moment: Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf’s assist on Perry’s second-period goal was his 700th point in his 740th game in the NHL. Perry’s goal, off an extended goal-mouth scramble, tied the score at 2-all. Getzlaf also scored a first-period goal, ending a 16-game drought.

Faceoff frenzy: Ryan Kesler won 16 of 19 faceoffs for the Ducks.

Quote, unquote: “When you’re coming out of the break, you want to be emotionally involved,” Getzlaf said. “It was perfect for our group to come out there and play a physical game and get into it right away.”

Injury update: Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler left the game after playing only 3:36 in the first period because of an unspecified lower-body injury. It wasn’t immediately clear how or when he was hurt or how long he might be sidelined. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t have an update after the game.

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf: ‘We just have to get going’

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf has one goal on 62 shots in 29 games this season, one of many reasons the team went into the Christmas break last in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference with a 12-15-6 record. His only goal went into an empty-net. He hadn’t scored yet in a 5-on-5 situation.

“If you told me I was going to have one goal at the break right now and we’d be struggling to score goals, I would have laughed at you at the start of the year,” said Getzlaf , who has a team-leading 19 assists. “We have to be better at all aspects of the game and that starts with us and myself. We just have to get going.”

Getzlaf scored 25 goals and 70 points last season and 31 goals and 87 points in 2013-14. He was sixth in voting for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most-valuable player last season and second in ’13-14. So, it’s not as if he hasn’t been a consistent scorer in the past for the Ducks.

“I had to get back where the game was slowing down for me, where I could get my mind where it needed to be,” he said. “And that’s not easy when you haven’t scored goals and you aren’t doing things and the team is struggling. I had a lot of things I think about. I tried hard in the last week to kind of mentally prepare myself before the game started. So that once the game started I could slow the game down and play at my pace. And I felt better the last week.”


LA Kings return forward Michael Mersch to Ontario Reign of AHL

The Kings on Wednesday assigned forward Michael Mersch to their American Hockey League team in Ontario. Mersch played six games for the Kings and made his NHL debut Dec. 11 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was scoreless with a minus-2 defensive rating. The 23-year-old Mersch had 12 goals and 15 points in 19 games with the Reign before the Kings recalled him.

LA Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s quote of the night

Kings coach Darryl Sutter was understandably unhappy about a high-sticking penalty taken by defenseman Christian Ehrhoff at 6 minutes, 2 seconds of the third period, which led to Joe Pavelski’s tying goal for the San Jose Sharks four seconds later. Said Sutter after the Kings’ 5-3 loss: “Christian has to play the man there, and play the body there, and he was sort of ducking down so they’re going to call it sometimes and sometimes they’re not.”

Game report: Sharks 5, Kings 3

Key play: Joe Pavelski scored two power-play goals only 1 minute, 32 seconds apart in the third period to rally the San Jose Sharks a 5-3 victory Tuesday over the Kings at Staples Center. Pavelski’s goals were his team-leading 17th and 18th of the season.

Pivotal performer: Right wing Tyler Toffoli scored his team-leading 13th and 14th goals, one in each of the first two periods, to help the Kings build a 3-2 lead over the Sharks going into the third. Toffoli’s first goal came only 1:40 into the game.

Quote, unquote: “They shoot the puck, they get to the net and they have guys who get sticks on pucks and it’s obviously tough on goalies to make saves when it’s going off two different guys and it’s going into the net,” Toffoli said of the Sharks’ power play, which clicked twice in four chances Tuesday.

Between the pipes: Jonathan Quick returned to the Kings’ net after Jhonas Enroth started in their 5-0 loss Saturday to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Martin Jones, Quick’s former backup with the Kings, started for the Sharks and made his 28th appearance of the season.

Injury update: Kings left wing Dwight King skated with his teammates during their morning skate and he stayed on the ice long after they departed. King has resumed skating with the Kings this week after suffering a broken foot in an exhibition game that’s sidelined him for all 33 games. It’s uncertain when King might be sound enough to return to the lineup.

Kings return defensemen Jeff Schultz, Nick Ebert to Ontario … not that they ever left town

The Kings on Tuesday assigned defensemen Jeff Schultz and Nick Ebert to the Ontario Reign of the American Hockey League, which was an odd move since they never joined the big club after their recall Monday. Schultz and Ebert practiced with the Reign on Tuesday and stayed put. The Kings are hunkered down at a resort outside of Montreal while awaiting Thursday’s game against the Canadiens.

The Kings also placed defenseman Matt Greene (shoulder surgery) on long-term IR.

Ducks send goalie Anton Khudobin to San Diego of AHL after he clears waivers

The Ducks on Tuesday assigned goaltender Anton Khudobin to the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League, after he cleared waivers earlier in the day. The move means Frederik Andersen and John Gibson will battle for the Ducks’ No. 1 spot in goal. Khudobin’s departure for the minor leagues also gives the Ducks $950,000 in salary-cap relief. He is owed $2.25 million this season.

Khudobin was 3-3-0 with a 2.70 goals-against average for the Ducks this season.