Kings coach Darryl Sutter doesn’t often play nice with reporters. He doesn’t like their questions, so he doesn’t answer them. Or he talks about something else. Or he gives them lessons on how he thinks they should do their jobs, which was the case Sunday when he didn’t wish to critique the Kings’ season as it reaches the midway point. Here’s some of what he said when asked about what he likes, dislikes and believes can be improved: “You guys criticize, I analyze. Your responsibility should be to pass good things along to the fans, not negative things. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Here’s Kings coach Darryl Sutter disputing my line of questioning about the team getting “rewarded” for going to the net during a 5-0 victory Saturday over the Calgary Flames: “That’s how you score. How many goals are scored by going to the net? It’s tough to score if you don’t go to the net. It’s not a reward. That’s real. It can’t hit you in the (rear end) and go in the net if you’re not standing close to the net.”
Kings defenseman Tom Gilbert drew a three-game suspension Thursday from the NHL for boarding Ducks left wing Nick Ritchie in the second period of Tuesday’s game at Staples Center. Gilbert must sit out the Kings’ games Thursday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, Saturday against the Calgary Flames and Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is eligible to play again Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens, the second-game of a five-game trip for the Kings.
Gilbert also must forfeit $23,333.34, based on his annual salary of $1.4 million.
Here’s the link to the NHL’s video explanation: https://www.nhl.com/video/t-277440360/c-45969003.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn’t agree the play was worth scrutinizing, let alone worthy of a suspension.
“I totally disagree that there should be any sort of hearing or anything at all,” Sutter said before the suspension was announced Thursday afternoon. “Usually, I’m all in the ‘what the right call’ (category), but I totally disagree. I think there were ones on him that should have been looked at. I totally disagree. That’s just the way I feel. I was shocked and surprised to hear that (the NHL would review the play).”
Kings goaltender Jeff Zatkoff walked with a noticeable limp as he exited the dressing room after a 4-3 shootout victory Saturday night over the Vancouver Canucks at Staples Center. He couldn’t say how long he would be sidelined by a groin injury suffered at the team’s morning skate in El Segundo earlier in the day. When asked if he would be OK, Zatkoff said he didn’t know.
“We’ll see,” he said.
The Kings placed him on injured reserve with what they called a lower-body injury. Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Zatkoff’s groin tightened up on him after making a save about midway through the 30-minute workout. Peter Budaj started in goal against the Canucks and Jack Campbell was summoned from Ontario of the AHL.
Jonathan Quick, the Kings’ No. 1 goalie, hurt his groin in the season-opening loss to the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 12 and is expected to be out for about three months.
Reactions to the Kings’ 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in their home-opening game Friday at Staples Center didn’t vary much. The consensus was the King must play better if they hope to win. Glaring errors cost them during the pivotal second period, according to Kings captain Anze Kopitar.
“We didn’t play the way we’re supposed to play,” Kopitar said. “A couple of bad line changes, a couple of missed coverages and they cashed in on it. We just can’t let that happen. You can’t expect to win when you let in four goals in one period. That second period was not good.”
Of playing for what could be an extended period without Quick, Kopitar added, “Yeah, he’s a big part of this team, and arguably the best goalie in the NHL, but we can’t do anything about it. A magic spell won’t bring him back. We’ve got to play with what we’ve got. We’ve got to play hard and, obviously, a lot better than we did tonight.”
(Thanks to Abbey Mastracco for the video)
The Kings placed winger Marian Gaborik on injured reserve Thursday, retroactive to Sept. 25, because of a broken right foot he suffered during Team Europe’s semifinal victory over Sweden in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. Gaborik was injured when he was struck by a puck shot by teammate Mats Zuccarello in the second period. The Kings expect Gaborik to be sidelined for about two months.
“The toughest part of his injury, you know a lot of times those boot injuries you can start walking, but he can’t,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said of Gaborik. “It’s got to be non-weight bearing, just the way it’s broke, otherwise he’s going to move those bones around. So that’s the tough part. It’s frustrating for him, because he’s a guy who likes to work out and train. … He can’t do nothin’ yet.”
The Kings won’t be at full strength when the regular season begins next Wednesday in San Jose. They learned Wednesday they’ll be without winger Tanner Pearson, who was suspended by the NHL for the rest of the exhibition season plus two regular-season games for an illegal check Sunday.
Pearson also was fined $15,555.56.
Here’s a link to the NHL’s video explanation: https://www.nhl.com/video/pearson-suspended-for-hit-to-head/t-277350912/c-45092103
The Kings also will be without injured winger Marian Gaborik, who suffered a broken right foot during the World Cup on Sept. 25 in Toronto that will sideline him for two months. Gaborik is scheduled to be re-examined by a team doctor the week of Oct. 16, according to coach Darryl Sutter.
Sutter hoped to determined who might best replace Gaborik during exhibition games in Las Vegas on Friday against the Dallas Stars and Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche. Now, Sutter has two vacancies to fill for the regular-season’s first two games.
Pearson was banned Wednesday for an illegal hit to the head of the Edmonton Oilers’ Brandon Davidson during the the Kings’ exhibition loss Sunday. Pearson was ejected from the game and now will serve the first suspension of his 146-game NHL career.
“I didn’t mean to have contact with the head, but that’s the way the game is now, and it’s one of those things that happened and it’s over with and now I’ve got to pay the consequences,” said Pearson, who is eligible to return to the lineup for an Oct. 18 game against the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul, Minn.
“I’m just going to deal with it.”
Pearson said he was trying to hit Davidson, an Oilers defenseman, in the shoulder on a play at center ice. Pearson drove his shoulder into Davidson’s head instead, injuring him and drawing a match penalty and a game misconduct at the 11-minute mark of the second period.
“I don’t want to do it again,” said Pearson, who was the Kings’ seventh-leading scorer last season with 36 points, including 15 goals, in 79 games. “I don’t like missing hockey games. It’s unfortunate what happened and I’ve got to sit out now.”
Teddy Purcell was here once before. It was six years ago, but it seems as if it was only yesterday. The Kings’ training facility is the same now, but different. Many of the faces are familiar, making his homecoming all the more comfortable, the transition to a new team far easier.
“The weight room has a retractable roof now,” Purcell said Saturday after the first of two practice sessions at the Kings’ workout facility. “It’s almost funny when you hear about it, especially when you come from Edmonton and your car doesn’t start when you leave the rink.”
No sub-zero temperatures are in the forecast in Southern California, where summer seems to go on and on. Old friends such as Trevor Lewis and Alec Martinez helped get Purcell settled and re-acclimated to the land of year-round sun and perpetually warm weather.
“I bought a beach cruiser,” Purcell said, smiling.
The Kings signed the 30-year-old Purcell to a one-season, $1.6-million contract after the departure July 1 of Milan Lucic, who signed a seven-year, $42-million contract with the Edmonton Oilers during the off-season, a deal the Kings could not afford in match in salary or duration.
Purcell began his NHL career with the Kings in 2007-08, signing as a free agent after one standout season at the University of Maine, and spent parts of three seasons with them before they traded him to the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2010. He’s also played with Edmonton and Florida.
Now he’s back, trying to secure a place on the Kings’ third or fourth lines while providing some much-needed scoring depth for a team that’s sound on its first two lines in that department, but seriously lacking in firepower beyond its top six forwards.
Purcell scored 14 goals and 43 points in 76 games last season, playing 15 of his final 76 games with the Panthers after a trade from the Oilers. Overall, he has 101 goals and 305 points in 559 games in nine seasons in the NHL.
Purcell isn’t sure where Kings coach Darryl Sutter might play him.
“I think it’s too early,” Purcell said. “That kind of stuff will take care of itself. (But) anybody would be lying if they said they didn’t like to play with guys like (Jeff) Carter and (Anze) Kopitar. If I take care of my stuff, it’ll work out and we’ll go from there.”
Purcell said he wants to make a good first impression during his second stint with the Kings.
“The first thing for me is I’ve got to gain the coaches’ trust,” he said. “I’ve got to show I’m responsible away from the puck. It kind of sounds selfish, but if you do well and gain their trust, they’re going to slot you into positions to succeed.
“We talked about some stuff in the the summer, but it changes almost daily at training camp. When I was younger, you kind of analyze it and beat yourself to death and not sleep over it, but as an older guy you just kind of go out and take care of your own business.”
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said Sunday things got so bad for the inconsistent team this season that after a victory Feb. 7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the players barricaded themselves behind locked doors and garbage cans and held a players-only meeting.
The cans were stacked in front of the dressing room and meant to be a signal to Kings coach Darryl Sutter to stay out. The Kings then snapped from a midseason funk to win eight consecutive games before faltering down the stretch and missing the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Lombardi said during an hour-long session with reporters at the team’s El Segundo practice facility that he didn’t have a problem with the meeting in general, but took mild offense to the extreme measures the players took in locking out Sutter.
“I guess it’s fair to say there was a little scuffle in Tampa,” Lombardi said when asked about a report in the New York Post that suggested the incident happened during a winless trip to play the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary, Flames, which knocked them out of the playoffs.
Lombardi corrected several elements of the Post’s story, including the date and location of the incident.
“I could look at it and say, ‘That’s when we won eight in a row, so let’s do this more often,’” Lombardi said when asked if he was troubled by the incident. “In terms of what actually happened, maybe they don’t have to go to that extreme, but theoretically I don’t have a problem with it.”
Neither Sutter nor the Kings players were available for immediate comment.