Kings Notebook (Oct. 2)
|Brad Richardson will start the season as the Kings fourth-line center.
The Kings didn't lack for options, since players such as Sean O'Donnell, Jarret Stoll and Ryan Smyth had leadership roles on previous teams, but Murray said he concluded that there was no reason to change.
In training camp last year, Murray named Brown (then just 23 years old) as his captain.
"I really thought (Brown) did a good job growing into his role last year," Murray said. "You take a look at what they did in the summer time. In particular it was Brownie and Greener calling the guys up in the month of July and getting the response that they got. Fifteen players came in and worked out throughout the month of July.
"That's great stuff. That's leadership right there. All three of them handled the work last year and did a good job in the leadership side of it, so we'll stay with it."
As expected, the Kings will start the season with a first line of center Anze Kopitar and wingers Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams, a second line of center Jarret Stoll and wingers Teddy Purcell and Dustin Brown, and a third line of center Michal Handzus and wingers Alexander Frolov and Wayne Simmonds.
The only matter of debate, in recent days, had been the fourth line, and Murray confirmed today that Brad Richardson will center Raitis Ivanans and Trevor Lewis. Peter Harrold, who can play both defense and forward, will be the only healthy scratch for the first two games while Sean O'Donnell serves his two-game suspension.
"(It's) more that Richie can't play right wing," Murray said. "It's probably more about that. Trevor Lewis, like we talk about with Peter Harrold, he's got some flexibility in his game. He can play the three forward positions, and it's nice to have that. Richie came into the organization here as a center iceman. He can play left wing, and does a pretty good job at it, but I think his comfort zone is there right now and he seems to be playing with that jump that I wanted to see last year. We'll get him going at center, where he is comfortable."
It is also expected that once Rich Clune returns from his groin injury, he will regularly fill a fourth-line spot, which will leave the Kings to choose between Lewis and Richardson. Murray said there was no medical update on Clune, who is expected to be out for at least another two weeks.
GETTING DEFENSE (AND OFFENSIVE)
The most intriguing defensive pairing of the early season figures to be that of Jack Johnson and Rob Scuderi, and it should be an interesting year for both.
Johnson suffered a shoulder injury in the second game of last season and, upon his return in January, had a stretch of strong play but also struggled at times. Scuderi arrived in the summer when he signed a four-year, $13.6-million contract.
The pairing, the Kings hope, will provide a little of everything. Scuderi was revered in Pittsburgh for his hard-nosed defensive work, which could allow Johnson more freedom to play a bigger offensive role.
"I don't know exactly what it is, but there is some chemistry that has developed," Murray said. "I was interviewed yesterday on a radio show, talking about Scuderi, and I said the greatest thing about it is that it looks like, to me, that we're going to get two players out of the one (signing). I really see Jack as a different player right now. I know he worked hard over the summertime to get where we wanted him to get.
"He's got the quickness, the strength he has maintained, and the confidence is just at a whole new level. Scuderi is a big part of that. He's a veteran who can really make things simple and easy out there with his range and his stick and his defending, but the chemistry has been great. I just hope it continues to build, and I see no reason why it shouldn't."