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Kings Notebook (Feb. 24)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
 Justin Williams returned to the ice on Wednesday for the first time since suffering a serious leg injury on Dec. 26.

Almost two months to the day that he suffered a devastating ankle injury, Justin Williams returned to the ice Wednesday, a first tentative step toward a return to the Kings.

Williams skated before the Kings practiced Wednesday morning, and while Williams declined to share his timetable, it seems clear that he intends to try to play again this season. An initial medical estimate had Williams possibly returning in late March.

The Kings' regular season ends on April 11.

"There's no set, public timetable for when I will come back,'' Williams said after practice Wednesday. "I know that if I work hard enough and stick with it, I'll hopefully be able to come back and help the team.''

Williams, who had surgery after suffering the injury in a Dec. 26 game at Phoenix, started walking without crutches approximately two weeks ago. Williams said the ability to get back on the ice, even in a limited way, gave him a mental boost.

"You need a goal,'' Williams said. "The team is performing awesome, and I want to be a part of that. That's giving me even more drive, to come back to a team that's playing well and positioning themselves well for playoff time. You want to come back and try to be a part of that, in whatever aspect that you can. That gives you a little bit more pop to your step when you come back.''

At the time of the injury, Williams was the Kings' first-line right winger -- alongside Anze Kopitar and Ryan Smyth -- and had eight goals and 16 assists in 33 games.

The Kings made two roster moves Wednesday, as they called up forwards Marc-Andre Cliche and Rich Clune from Manchester of the American Hockey League.

Clune's recall -- he had been assigned to the Monarchs during the Olympic break -- was expected, but he was joined by Cliche, who would make his NHL debut if he stays around and plays for the Kings on Tuesday in Dallas.

Cliche, 22, has 10 goals and 11 assists in 50 games for the Monarchs this season and is known as a strong defensive forward with some scoring ability as well.

"This is my third year in the American Hockey League,'' Cliche said. "You always think about it, and it's a dream come true. It hasn't happened yet, because we still have a long way before Tuesday and I don't know if I'm going to play, but just being here, it feels so good.''

The Kings returned to practice Wednesday after a mandated 10-day break, but with Jonathan Quick representing the United States in the Olympics, the Kings had only one goalie -- Erik Ersberg -- available for practice.

So the Kings turned to former goalie Jamie Storr, who is retired and operates a goalie school ( out of the team's training facility in El Segundo.

Storr, 34, spent the previous three seasons playing in Germany

"I was really excited,'' Storr said. "Ronnie (Hextall) called me about a week and a half ago and asked if I would be interested in coming out to skate, because of Jonathan being at the Olympics. The last couple days, it's been exciting. It's exciting to get back on the ice with this level of players. It's pretty neat to be a part of it, even at a practice level. It's exciting. It was fun.''

Storr has two former Kings teammates on the current roster, 38-year-old defenseman Sean O'Donnell and forward Alexander Frolov, who was a rookie during Storr's last season with the Kings, in 2002-03.

Storr played 205 games with the Kings over parts of nine seasons, and he could be around for a while. If the United States advances to the gold-medal game, Quick would not rejoin the Kings until Tuesday, when they travel to face Dallas.

The Kings will practice Thursday and Friday in El Segundo at 10 a.m., then have off-ice workouts and the team's local rink tour on Saturday before returning to practice Sunday and Monday.
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