There will be few introductions required prior to tonight’s Edmonton-Los Angeles game at the Staples Center, writes LA Kings Insider Rich Hammond.
The Los Angeles roster boasts five former Oilers — Dustin Penner, Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Ethan Moreau and the injured Colin Fraser — while the Edmonton roster boasts three former Kings: Ryan Smyth, Eric Belanger and Colten Teubert, who will make his NHL debut this evening.
(Of note, the game will also provide GMs Dean Lombardi and Steve Tambellini a chance to exchange niceties following the Colin Fraser Trade Fiasco.)
The most interesting storyline is Smyth’s return to L.A. While he only played two seasons with the Kings, he was an key leadership figure and beloved by teammates (remember when they donned mullet wigs to honor Smyth’s 1,000th NHL game?) Smyth’s first year in L.A. also coincided with the team’s first playoff appearance in six years, so it’s fair to suggest he had a positive influence on the team.
But — isn’t there always a but? — it wasn’t all sunshine and lime margaritas (you can tell I’ve spent a lot of time in Hollywood). Smyth asked out of L.A. this past summer, forcing Lombardi’s hand into a trade that ended up being a six-week headache. After rejecting a move to Calgary, Smyth was dealt to Edmonton for Gilbert Brule…but L.A. had concerns about Brule’s physical, so the deal was nixed. That led to the contentious Fraser trade, which resulted in L.A. filling a grievance against the Oilers (which will be heard by the NHL on Nov. 16, by the way.)
That said, Kings players don’t seem to care about the off-ice stuff. Defenseman Drew Doughty spoke nothing but positives about Smyth and head coach Terry Murray remembered Smyth’s time in L.A. with fondness.
“He really played hard in the offensive zone. He made plays from below the net and scored some very big goals for us. He’s got a great stick and hand-eye coordination, and that’s where he contributes,” Murray told Hammond. “He’s a real character guy, a veteran of the game.’’