L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter says Mike Richards still has ‘lots of game left’

Coach Darryl Sutter had this to say about the Kings’ move to place struggling forward Mike Richards on waivers Monday morning:

“From a personal standpoint, from a coaching standpoint, Mike’s been a really good player for us, obviously. He’s had a really tough year. It’s natural for people on the outside to want to have all the answers. Mike’s still got lots of game left. He’s been frustrated with it, too. I think he’s got lots of game left. That’s how I feel. …

“This is hockey and some of you guys don’t get it, period. In terms of lots of players go on waivers and lots of players clear waivers and still have great years in front of them. It’s just people in media who want to continue to beat people up because they can’t do it themselves. … I think Mike’s still go lots of hockey left.”

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Kings GM Dean Lombardi talks about placing Mike Richards on waivers

Here’s part of a question-and-answer session between Kings beat writers and general manager Dean Lombardi on Monday afternoon …

Question: How did it get to this point?

Lombardi: “It’s a process you work through. It’s not like all of a sudden it dawns on you. You’re starting to think about and you work through the process. I think it’s fair to say we made a final decision that we were one way our another deal with it after the All-Star break.”

Question: How did he take it?

Lombardi: “You can ask him. The process isn’t done because he’s still got to clear. I’ll probably talk to him a little more tomorrow. I’m sure it’s not easy on anybody. These are the tough decisions you’ve got to make.”

Question: You could have bought him out last spring, did you hope that would get him going?

Lombardi: “It was a combination of that and I think it’s … we expect loyalty from our players and it’s a two-way street. I think under the circumstance and what he’d done for us, I thought he deserved a chance to get back to what he’s capable of. That’s a hard balance. Obviously, I’ve thought about that a lot. There’s a new wave thing out there that players are commodities and passion and loyalty, those values made sports so special, the commodities guys will tell you that don’t matter. Well, that’s been a big part of the success of this team, I believe. And that’s how I came down on it. If you’re going to expect loyalty from your players, you have to at times show loyalty to them. Then the issue becomes, where’s that line.

“So, when I step back now, I’m never going to lose my belief in those values being critical, but as we see in the cap area … the cap is designed to eliminate those types of emotions. Fortunately, I still believe they’re a critical part of a good team. In retrospect, if you the commodities angle, you say, well, it should have been easy. If you use the belief in the intangibles it’s not. It is what it is. In the end, I felt he deserved that chance for all he’d done for us. I mean, I don’t think there’s any question that we don’t win that first Cup without what he did for this team. Obviously, you don’t win the second one. But you’ve still got to be at a certain level here that has to get done.”

Question: What about the financial standpoint  …

Lombardi: “That’s what we’ve got to work through. Mike in his career, he’s shown he can be a .300 hitter and get you 80 RBIs and be an All-Star player. So, maybe at this stage, it’s not there. I still think he’s capable of being a .280 hitter and do a lot of those things for you that only he can do. Let’s face it, right now, he’s batting .200. But I don’t see any reason why he can’t get back to that. He’s got to do what he’s got to do. There’s a lot of things that remind me of where Teemu Selanne was at this stage. Remember when he had fallen off the map in Colorado and it looked like he was done? Then he started changing some things and went on to have 10 great years, for crying out loud. It’s up to Mike. In my mind, I believe if he wants to, he can get back to that. I see no reason why not. But it’s going to be up to him.”

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Will the L.A. Kings bench ineffective forward Mike Richards?

Kings forward Mike Richards played only 9 minutes, 7 seconds in Thursday’s 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers, a season low. He was scoreless and has five goals and nine assists this season. His plus/minus defensive rating is minus-8. He and frequently-scratched forward Jordan Nolan skated Friday in yellow jerseys while the rest of the Kings’ forwards were grouped in threes in like-colored sweaters.

It led to speculation Friday that Richards could be scratched for Saturday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, the first time he would miss a game for any reason since the 2011-12 season, after an off-season trade from the Philadelphia Flyers. Richards played all 41 games so far this season, after playing in all 82 last season and all 48 during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

“I still, obviously, think I can play a lot more minutes,” Richards said after Friday’s practice. “But at the same time, you play what you’re put in a position of. I’m not going to cause a scene or doing anything to take the focus away from everything. I’m just going to come to the rink every day and play hockey. It is what it is, to be honest. You come here every day, you work, you get ready for a hockey game just like any other year or any other time, and that’s about all you can do.”

 

 

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L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter talks about struggling forward Jeff Carter

Jeff Carter, far left, is in a slump. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)

Jeff Carter, far left, is in a slump. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)

 

Kings forward Jeff Carter hasn’t scored a goal since Nov. 18 against the Florida Panthers, a dreary stretch of 13 games in which he also has only three assists. So, when a beat reporter asked Kings coach Darryl Sutter on Wednesday if Carter was getting enough scoring chances, Sutter said, “Not consistently. Not consistently.”

Sutter also said: “He hasn’t scored a goal for a month tomorrow. Nov. 18. I have it all marked down. … We’re trying to get all our top guys to be more productive players right not. It’s not just Jeff Carter.”

In addition, Sutter said one way to eliminate some of the pressure from Carter is having him play on center Anze Kopitar’s wing. “There was a time last year when (Dwight) King, ‘Kopi’ and ‘Carts’ were our best line,” Sutter recalled. “Just trying to manage it game by game … the reason why you shift guys around is because top guys aren’t producing. That’s clearly why, if you look around the league now, why guys get shifted around.”

 

 

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So, how did L.A. Kings defenseman Alec Martinez play in his return to the lineup?

Alec Martinez (27) played for the first time after missing seven games after undergoing finger surgery.  (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)

Alec Martinez (27) played for the first time after missing seven games after undergoing finger surgery. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)

 

Well, it depends. Here’s what Alec Martinez said to say after playing for the first time after sitting out for seven games because of finger surgery: “It felt good to be back playing again. It’s not too much fun being out. As for my game, I’m not too happy with it. I had to shake off a little bit of rust. I know I’ve got a better game in me next game. At the end of the day, we got the two points. That’s all I care about.”

Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter said, bringing up Martinez’s name after reporters failed to do so after a 2-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday at Staples Center: “Whenever guys come back from injuries, they have a lot of energy, and he and Robyn (Regehr, his defense partner Tuesday) were really good.”

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L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s quote of the night

Kings coach Darryl Sutter had this to say after defensive-minded defensemen Matt Greene and Robyn Regehr scored second-period goals in a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers: “It’s good to see Robyn and Greene score. They don’t get much credit and they give you the blue collar every night. They are our two most consistent defensemen, for sure. It’s always good to see them score.”

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Kings defenseman Drew Doughty playing big minutes for shorthanded team

As a result of the Kings’ injuries, defenseman Drew Doughty’s ice time has grown to an average of 28 minutes, 37 seconds per game, the second-highest in the league behind the 29:08 played per contest by Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. Doughty averaged 25:42 last season, seventh overall.

“He’s been playing a lot of minutes,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said after Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Dallas Stars. “Do we like that? No, but that’s where we’re at. I look at that all the time, too. It’s too many minutes. He’s going to tell you he’s fine, but over the long haul, that’s too many.”

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L.A. Kings forwards Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli benched vs. Ducks

There were, oh, about 1.5 million things that got overlooked during the Kings’ 6-5 shootout loss to the Ducks on Wednesday. One was the scant playing time given to young forwards Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, two-thirds of That 70s Line, the Kings’ leading offensive trio. Pearson played only eight minutes Wednesday against the Ducks, and Toffoli was on the ice for only 10:43. Jeff Carter, who centers the line, played his customary minutes, skating 21:33. More minutes than usual, in fact. Toffoli has scored a Kings-leading 17 points, including seven goals, while averaging 14:16 of ice time per game. Carter has 15 points, including six goals, and averages 18:11. Pearson has 10 points, including seven goals, and averages 12:56.

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L.A. Kings coach Darryl Sutter’s funny quote of the day (part 2)

Kings coach Darryl Sutter had this to say about free agent defenseman Jamie McBain, who signed a one-season, $550,000 contract with the club Tuesday: “There’s a lot to go over with him. It’s way different coming to this conference. The pace of play is way different. He hasn’t played on a good team. Big difference. Good kid. Good skill set. The next part is the game.”

 

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Brayden McNabb makes Kings debut in place of injured Jake Muzzin

Jake Muzzin sat out of the Kings’ season-opening loss to the San Jose Sharks because of an unspecified injury. Muzzin, one-half of the Kings’ top defense pair along, was hurt earlier in the week. His status for  Sunday’s Saturday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz., remains uncertain.

Brayden McNabb took Muzzin’s place in the lineup and played a regular shift alongside Drew Doughty. McNabb’s plus-minus rating was minus-1. He played 23 minutes, 27 seconds. Doughty was a minus-1 in a team-leading 27:28.

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