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Kings Notebook (Nov. 11)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Tonight, just after 7:30 p.m., Kyle Clifford will officially become an NHL player. It remains to be seen whether Brayden Schenn will be spending his near future.

Clifford is scheduled to play his 10th game of the season tonight when the Kings host the Dallas Stars at STAPLES Center. Clifford remains eligible for junior hockey, but by playing tonight, he will officially have his NHL entry-level contract kick in.

Schenn has appeared in eight games, and is scheduled to be a healthy scratch tonight.

On Wednesday, coach Terry Murray gave his opinion that Schenn’s development might be better served by a final year in junior hockey, but no official decision was reached on Wednesday when Murray met with general manager Dean Lombardi, Murray said.

Kyle Clifford's rookie-level contract will kick in once he plays in his 10th NHL game tonight.
``We haven't made a decision on Schenn, nothing firm,’’ Murray told reporters after Thursday's morning skate in El Segundo. ``We did have a meeting, a coaches-manager meeting. We talked about a bunch of different scenarios, but we haven't reached any decision. Just keep going through it, and keep working with all the young players that are here, that are part of the hockey club, and try to make them better every day.’’

Schenn has been the Kings’ fourth-line center in the games that he has played in, and Schenn has two assists in eight games. His ice time has dipped considerably since he averaged more than 14 minutes in his first two games.

Schenn could still play one more game before the Kings must decide whether to start his entry-level contract, but Murray said he did not have any firm plans to get Schenn into a game in the near future.

``I can't rule anything out on that one,’’ Murray said. ``He's the only healthy (spare) forward that we have here right now, so you go through the games and if stuff happens, then he's in. Until we decide anything different, he's part of the team right now. We discussed things and talked yesterday, but we didn't arrive at any firm decision. That's the scenario. He could still get that one game in before we have to make a firm decision, so we'll wait and see how it plays out tonight.’’

Clifford is expected to play left wing on the fourth line tonight, alongside center Trevor Lewis and right winger Kevin Westgarth.

Jonathan Quick will be back in goal for the Kings, and Murray indicated that Quick is likely to play in Saturday’s game against the New York Islanders as well.

Quick last played last Thursday, when he recorded a shutout against Tampa Bay. Backup goalie Jonathan Bernier is likely to get a start sometime next week.

``Four games next week,’’ Murray said. ``We'll mix it up a little there.’’

In baseball, they call it hitting for the cycle. There’s no term for it in hockey, but Brad Richardson will, in essence, have touched all four bases after tonight’s game.

Richardson started the season on the second line, then went to the fourth line, then the first. After a stint back on the fourth line, he has completed the circle by moving up to the third line to skate with center Michal Handzus and right winger Wayne Simmonds.

Richardson is well-known for his versatile play. He can also play center, in addition to the left-wing role he will fill tonight.

``I think the adjustment, it would probably take a little bit of time,’’ Murray said. ``I never went through it as a player, to different positions like that, so you probably have to take some time reflecting on it, sure. I think it will come back quickly. They have played together in the past, so I think it will fall into place pretty fast.’’

Richardson is taking the spot of Alexei Ponikarovksy, who is expected to miss approximately four weeks with a broken finger.

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