Their 13-10-4 record isn’t catastrophic, but the Los Angeles Kings might just be the most disappointing team in the NHL so far. They’ve been one of the most top-heavy squads in the league, so Mike Richards’ injury certainly doesn’t bode well. Rich Hammond provides an update on the Kings’ four banged-up players and the word is that Richards hasn’t skated since getting injured last Thursday.
All Terry Murray had to say was that Richards is “progressing,” although that hasn’t meant much more than some time on an exercise bike. Meanwhile, Willie Mitchell participated in a full practice, Alec Martinez is expected to get back in on practices and Justin Williams isn’t expected to miss a game after hurting his hand.
That’s good news, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Kings are struggling mightily to score goals. Anze Kopitar spoke with Hammond about their irritating slumps.
“I’d be lying if I said there was no frustration in the room,” Kopitar said. “I don’t think we have even come close to playing our best hockey, so we’re still in good shape but we’ve got to turn it around. But it can get frustrating.”
I’ve made this point before, but it’s hard not to wonder if the Kings’ frustrations might dissolve a bit if they open up their system to some extent. Of course, that would likely also subject Jonathan Quick to tougher scoring chances in the Los Angeles end, so maybe it’s more about improving by increments rather than rebooting the whole thing. (Oddly enough, Kings players discussed this topic moments before this post was ready to publish, so check out their comments on Murray’s system.)
Either way, the team will be a lot better with a healthy Richards on the ice, though.
For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”
On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.
With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.
“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”
As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.
It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.
Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?
We’ll know in a month.
Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:
The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.
The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.
If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.
Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”
And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.
While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.