Richards, Carter reunited in L.A.

Close friends will get to be teammates once again, as soon as Saturday

Friday, 02.24.2012 / 5:07 PM / Los Angeles Kings | News
By Rich Hammond
The most important question might be, is Jeff Carter a dog person?

Thursday night, shortly after the Kings announced that they had acquired Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Jack Johnson and a first-round draft pick, Carter’s close friend and once-again teammate, Mike Richards, posted a Tweet that included the hashtag, ``Need a roommate.’’

Richards’ three-bedroom house in Manhattan Beach is currently occupied only by Richards and his black Labrador, Arnold. That’s probably about to change, at least in the short term. Carter was expected to arrive in Los Angeles on Friday night and, if all goes well, will play Saturday against Chicago.

It’s a remarkable reunion for the two friends who, a year ago, were teammates with the Philadelphia Flyers. That was before, on the same June day, both got traded, Richards to the Kings and Carter to the Blue Jackets. Now, they’re reunited, and will likely play on the same line, assuming Carter completes his medical testing in time to face the Blackhawks at STAPLES Center.

``We’re excited. It’s something that obviously we didn’t expect, when we got traded in the summer, but it’s nice to have him back,’’ Richards said after Friday’s practice. ``He’s a good hockey player and obviously a good friend, and hopefully we can have success together on the ice.’’

In acquiring Carter, the Kings hope to boost their offense, which is lat in the NHL this season. Carter had 15 goals in 39 games with Columbus this season, but is a three-time 30-goal scorer, including a career-high of 46 goals with the Flyers in 2008-09.

It’s likely that Carter would start out on a line with Richards and rookie left winger Dwight King.

``Jeff and I have played together, and we have had success together before,’’ Richards said. ``He’s a good player and he’s easy to play with, so it won’t take us long to get that chemistry back.

``He’s playing well right now. I watched the last couple of his games. He had a hat trick against San Jose the other night, and he’s playing well right now. He had a little bit of injuries earlier in the year, but he’s back right now. He’s said he’s healthy and excited to get started. He’s a motivated kid, coming in here, so it will be good.’’

Sutter said he wouldn’t hesitate to put Carter in the lineup, to no surprise. The Kings have fallen to ninth place in the Western Conference, out a playoff spot, and Carter could provide a boost.

``Well, obviously it’s a name that the organization is very familiar with,’’ Sutter said. ``I think Dean (Lombardi) and Ron Hextall and John Stevens are all very familiar with Jeff, so it’s a name that they’ve brought up before. You’ve got to give to get, right? You’re getting an awesome forward and you’re giving up a good, young defenseman.’’

BROWN NOT FOCUSED ON CHATTER

Kings captain Dustin Brown expressed his satisfaction with the Kings’ trade for Carter, saying that Carter is ``definitely going to help our team in a lot of areas,’’ but Brown also faced questions about his own status.

Last night, reports surfaced that the Kings had been entertaining trade offers for Brown in advance of Monday’s deadline, and Brown was asked about hearing his name in reports.

``I can’t say you don’t think about it, but it’s more along the lines of getting here and getting on the ice and working on what I need to do to play well on Saturday,’’ Brown said. ``Ultimately, that’s my main focus, is being the best I can for every game. It’s the same thing every year, around this time. Your name gets thrown out there, other names get thrown out, and at the end of the day, you’ve got to get yourself ready to play. You can’t worry about stuff like that.’’

VOYNOV BACK IN L.A.

The trade of Johnson left a void on defense that will be filled by rookie Slava Voynov.

Voynov was called up on Friday and rookie center Andrei Loktionov was assigned to Manchester of the American Hockey League. Voynov, who has four goals and seven assists in 34 games, will join Willie Mitchell in the Kings’ second defensive pairing.

Loktionov had three goals and four assists in 39 games this season, but the Kings now have three top healthy centers in Anze Kopitar, Richards and Jarret Stoll.

``Everybody looks at it as, you’re in a playoff race or whatever, and you’re just looking to fill that hole (on defense), but Dean’s vision, in the long-term part of it, is a player like Slava playing,’’ Sutter said. ``We sent him down, and everybody thinks you send guys down because they’re not playing well. It’s that, where he’s got to play, he wasn’t fitting. So now we need him to play in that spot.’’