The Kings’ victory over the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final last June was named the top moment in sports in Los Angeles for 2014 at the 10th annual L.A. Sports Awards on Sunday at The Beverley Hilton Hotel. The Kings’ game against the Ducks at Dodger Stadium, the first NHL game played outdoors in California, was selected as the eighth-best moment. Prime Ticket will air the awards show March 25 at 7:30 p.m., and it will have multiple showings on ensuing days. Check your local listings, as the saying goes.
The Kings assigned defenseman Derek Forbort to their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., on Friday. Forbort did not play in a game for the Kings, but was used in case of emergency, what with Alec Martinez sidelined indefinitely by a concussion and Slava Voynov suspended indefinitely by the NHL because of a domestic violence charge.
The Kings signed physical forward Kyle Clifford to a five-year contract extension worth an average of $1.6 million per season. Clifford, 24, has 58 points and 462 penalty minutes in 333 games in the NHL. He has 10 points, including three goals, and 66 penalty minutes in 57 games this season. Clifford assisted on Alec Martinez’s Stanley Cup-winning goal in Game 5 of the Final last June. He is the second Kings forward in two days to sign an extension following Jordan Nolan, who signed a new three-season deal worth an average of $950,000.
Kings defenseman Alec Martinez didn’t make the trip to Santa Clara for the Stadium Series game Saturday against the San Jose Sharks. He remained behind in Southern California, on the mend from a concussion suffered in a Feb. 7 game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Kings coach Darryl Sutter provided no new details on Martinez’s return from the head injury, other than to say the Stanley Cup Final hero was riding a stationary bicycle and not cleared to resume skating.
Here are a few odds and ends from Wednesday’s practice, the Kings’ first since returning to the sun and warm temps after their dreary trip …
The Kings will honor former coach Barry Melrose as part of their Legends Night Series before Thursday’s game against Calgary. Melrose coached the Kings from 1992-95, guiding them to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1993. …
Jeff Carter didn’t practice with the Kings in order to attend the funeral of his grandfather. Coach Darryl Sutter said Carter would return to the team in time for tonight’s game against the Flames, “weather pending.” …
Defenseman Alec Martinez continues to be termed day-to-day after suffering a concussion. Wednesday was not his day, however. He did not skate with his teammates, and he’s not expected to play against the Flames. …
Defenseman Derek Forbort was supposed to join the Kings in time for Monday’s game against the Blue Jackets, and perhaps make his NHL debut in place of an ill Robyn Regehr. Instead, Forbort spent part of his day sitting on an airplane on the tarmac at Logan Airport in Boston.
Forbort watched the snow fall and fall and fall some more. The plane returned to the gate after 90 minutes and his flight was canceled. Instead of skating with the Kings, Forbort returned reluctantly by taxi to Manchester, N.H., home of their American Hockey League team.
“I was about to drive (to Columbus),” he joked.
Forbort finally joined the Kings on Wednesday, recalled from Manchester. There was no snow in El Segundo as the temperature soared past 80 degrees. Forbort said he wore jeans and a long-sleeved T-Shirt and felt “overdressed” because of the warm weather.
The Kings summoned Forbort because their defense corps is depleted. Alec Martinez has a concussion, Robyn Regehr has a lingering illness and Slava Voynov continues to serve an indefinite NHL suspension stemming from a domestic violence charge. Voynov’s trial is set for March 2.
KINGS AT BLUE JACKETS
Faceoff: 4 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM
Defenseman Alec Martinez is said to be day-to-day because of concussion-like symptoms after he took a hard hit Saturday. The Kings ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory Saturday over the then-Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning, the fourth stop on their five-game trip. Martinez was injured in the first period. A victory today over the Blue Jackets would enable them to salvage their trip and give them back-to-back road wins for the first time since defeating the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 26 and then the Phoenix Coyotes on Dec. 4. The Kings are 22-18-12 overall, but 6-12-6 on the road after ending a four-game losing streak away from Staples Center on Saturday. Only the lowly Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers, with five apiece, had fewer road victories at the start of business Sunday. Defenseman Drew Doughty scored his first goal in 14 games Saturday. Justin Williams scored twice against the Lightning, ending a seven-game drought without a point. The Blue Jackets are 23-25-3, and will welcome Marian Gaborik back to Columbus for the first time since trading him to the Kings last March.
Remember this? The New York Rangers certainly do. They face the Kings on Thursday at Staples Center for the first time since Alec Martinez’s goal in double-overtime sent the Rangers home without the Stanley Cup. The Rangers begin a three-game trip to California on Wednesday against the Ducks in Anaheim. Their minds were focused on the Kings and a return to Staples Center, however.
“I think it will always be in the back of the memory,” New York’s Rick Nash told Rangers beat reporters the other day. “I think the rest of your life, whenever you say L.A., that memory will come up. But in saying that, it’s a new season, so it doesn’t really matter what happened last season.”
Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr suffered an unspecified upper-body injury during their 6-4 victory Thursday over the St. Louis Blues and could not finish the game. It wasn’t immediately clear how serious the injury was or whether Regehr could play in Saturday afternoon’s game against the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center.
One thing was for sure, however. The Kings cannot afford to lose another veteran defenseman for a prolonged period. They have been without Slava Voynov since Oct. 20, when he was suspended by the NHL because of a domestic violence arrest. Voynov was ordered to stand trial in the case earlier this week.
Regehr has been sidelined for three games already this season because of an undisclosed injury. Alec Martinez sat out seven games because of an upper-body injury and Jake Muzzin missed six games because of an upper-body injury.
Defenseman Alec Martinez came through for the Kings with two enormous goals to help them hoist the Stanley Cup last spring. The Kings then came through for Martinez in a big way with a six-season, $24-million contract extension Wednesday.
It’s another in a series of long-term deals given by Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who also has locked up forward Marian Gaborik (seven years, $34 million) and defenseman Matt Greene (four years, $10 million) with new extended contracts.
In addition, Martinez becomes the fifth player to be signed through at least the 2020-21 season, joining Gaborik, team captain Dustin Brown, forward Jeff Carter and goaltender Jonathan Quick. Two others, Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards, are signed through 2019-20.
Martinez, 27, has played in 221 regular-season games for the Kings and 59 more in the playoffs. He scored series-winning goals in overtime in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against New York Rangers and in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Overall, the Rochester Hill, Mich., native has 25 goals and 62 points in his career.