After defeating the New Jersey Devils in six games last June, the LA Kings ended up putting 24 names on the Stanley Cup in September. Since then, three of those players have ended up back in the American Hockey League with the Manchester Monarchs – Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Slava Voynov. Plus, Anze Kopitar is off in Sweden, Alec Martinez in Finland, Jonathan Bernier in Germany and Dustin Brown is playing in Switzerland.
Add in today’s announcement that forward Kyle Clifford will soon make his debut with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign and – thanks to the NHL lockout – eight of those 24 names aren’t playing in a Kings jersey right now.
It could easily be nine too, as defenseman Davis Drewiske told MayorsManor he was close to deal with Mora – the same team where the Kopitar brothers are playing. However, according to Drewiske, the last thing he wanted to do was get over there and then have to turn right around and come back to LA if a CBA settlement was reached. He’s an optimistic sort of guy, can’t you tell?
As for Clifford, by signing with the Reign, he’ll get exactly what so many of the Kings’ players have been talking about lately – the need to participate in more competitive action than they’re getting working out in small groups. It’s part of what drove Brown to Switzerland and it’s part of what pushed Minnesota Wild forward Devin Setoguchi to sign with Ontario a few weeks ago.
Clifford, originally selected by the Kings in the second round of the 2009 NHL Draft, will join a Reign team that is on a serious roll right now. They’ve won seven straight games – tying a franchise record – and are playing complete hockey at both ends of the ice.
The 21-year old left wing is set to make his ECHL debut with a pair of road games following the Thanksgiving holiday. Clifford and the Reign will be in San Francisco on Friday night to take on the Bulls and then head to Bakersfield for a Saturday night draw contest vs. the Condors.
He’ll make his home debut next Wednesday vs. the Orlando Solar Bears – who also happen to feature an NHL player, BJ Crombeen. Both guys played their junior hockey for the Barrie Colts (OHL). However, they missed being teammates by a few years. If you know anything about Crombeen, there’s a good chance these guys will quickly become acquainted next week.
In 157 regular season, Clifford has posted 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) and 254 penalty minutes.
Reign President Justin Kemp was perhaps hinting of this signing when he was on the MayorsManor show last month. Take a listen here.