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Kings Notebook (Jan. 18)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Greene still out for Tuesday, but his return is close.
Watching Matt Greene skate around in practice, at full speed, shooting and participating in drills, it's hard to imagine that he will be out of the Kings' lineup much longer.

Indeed, it might only be a matter of days before Greene returns from the lower-body injury that has sidelined him for the last nine days. Initial fears were that Greene would miss several weeks of action, but that appears to have been avoided.

Coach Terry Murray said Greene has been ruled out for Tuesday night's game against San Jose against STAPLES Center, but Murray said that Greene almost certainly would return during the Kings' upcoming road trip, which starts Saturday at Detroit.

"I would say for sure during the road trip," Murray said. "Yes, absolutely. He's coming around, because the medical staff is doing a great job, and he's really digging in, to get back as fast as he can. It's encouraging to see what he's doing right now."

Greene, injured during a fight during the Kings' loss to St. Louis on Jan. 9, was off the ice for only a week. Murray said that once Greene is cleared, his only obstacle will be pain tolerance, which is unlikely to be an issue for Greene.

"He's improving," Murray said. "He's getting better, obviously, with the amount of work and skating that he's doing. It's the lateral-agility stuff that's the issue. It's not the north-south (skating). ... He's pushing it so hard, off ice, that it's looking pretty good."

Murray raised some eyebrows after the Kings' victory over Boston on Saturday when, during the postgame media scrum, he used Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby as an example of the type of game-breaking player that the Kings don't have right now.

Was Murray calling out Anze Kopitar, whom he specifically mentioned as one who might "break through and be that player some day"? Was Murray calling for a trade?

No, Murray clarified Monday, on both accounts.

"It wasn't meant to be that," Murray said. "No, it wasn't. We are a team right now, as a young group, that really needs to have the five men doing the job out there. We have to be on the same page and executing together, both ways.

"When I bring Crosby into it, I didn't even see the game. I saw the highlights of the play. He was spectacular, splitting the defensemen and scoring. We have guys that can do that, but we're at a time in our development here where it's really critical that five guys push it together and that our team keep demanding more of themselves and demanding more of each other, each game, so that we can have consistency in our performance.

"That was it, really. There was nothing more to it. There was no challenge to Kopi or to Doughty or to Fro or anything like that. It was just was it was."

For a handful of Kings players, there has been an addition to their hockey gear: yellow socks, made from Kevlar, that reduce their risk of getting cut by skate blades.

Frightening skate-cutting injuries have become almost commonplace in the NHL in recent years, and the sock -- known as the Tactics Skate Sock -- is designed to prevent the injuries that come from players being stepped on or slashed.

Darren Granger, the Kings' head equipment manager, said five Kings have started wearing the socks -- which fit under their regular hockey socks -- and Murray said he hopes all players start wearing them.

"Obviously, it’s their decision about what they want to do," Granger said. "I think we have five right now. We had one player that was pretty exposed, where he was vulnerable to be cut, so he was sort of the reason it got started. That and, obviously, the injuries around the league. It’s been something that we’ve been trying to find for a couple years now, and now we’ve finally got a couple companies making them."

Murray shared a story about his days as an assistant coach in Washington in the 1980s, when a fan showed up with a newly created sock and a knife.

"He's got a full hockey sock made of Kevlar," Murray said. "He had a hunting knife, a great big blade, about a 10-inch blade. He said, `Here, cut this sock.' You couldn't. The only difference was the weight of it, compared to the sock the players wear. I said to the fan, `If this could ever become a lighter weight, I'm sure it would be very easy to convince the players to wear something like this."'
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