|After finding himself benched on Monday, Alexander Frolov found himself with a new linemate, as Dustin Brown will join the talented winger and veteran center Michal Handzus. |
All it took for Alexander Frolov to find his way back into the Los Angeles Kings lineup was a conversation with coach Terry Murray.
Terry Murray on Frolov
| Dustin Brown on Frolov
On Monday Frolov was a healthy scratch for the Kings game against the Dallas Stars. Two days earlier in a 4-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Frolov made a costly turnover which led to a Blue Jacket goal that tied the game late in the first period. Following the game, Murray spoke with LAKings.coms Rich Hammond about how he had been unhappy with Frolov's recent play, and that Saturday's turnover in Columbus only heightened his feelings.
"The game the other night is the straw that broke the camel's back, in my opinion," Murray told Hammond. "The turnovers, the careless play...It has to be better, and you have to come out with that high level of intensity, with smart work, hard work, and you've got to love the game."
Frolov was back on the ice at practice on Wednesday, and with new linemates. Frolov practiced on the Kings second line with center Michal Handzus and right winger Dustin Brown.
Following practice Murray said that Frolov was back in the lineup, and that when the decision was made to scratch Frolov from the game in Dallas, Murray made sure to leave the door open for Frolov to earn his way back into the lineup.
"It was important for me to leave an opening in the door," Murray said. "That was 'whenever you're ready to come back knock on my door, come and sit down, and look me in the eye and talk to me and tell me that you're ready to get going and play the game that I know you're capable of. And that's what happened here this morning. He came in, knocked on my door and wanted to talk for a few minutes and we had a good discussion and he's back in. He's ready to go."
For Frolov, he again reiterated that being a healthy scratch for a game is never a pleasant experience, but a decision he must respect.
"Nobody likes to be scratched and be in the locker room," Frolov said. "It's pretty frustrating for any player. I didn't have this experience for a long, long time. As I said before it's a head coach decision and you have to respect it."
Through eight games this season, Frolov has scored just one goal. For a player who scored 32 goals last season, the drop in production is striking. Yet Frolov emphasized that he is not worried about his slow start to the season.
"Things like that are going to happen anyways every year," Frolov said. "The season is long and it's happened to me before. Just keep working hard and good things are going to happen."
Murray said the biggest thing he wants to see from Frolov, as well as from all his players, is a 100 percent commitment to the team.
"We've got to have that commitment if we're going to make things work here, as far as we talk about changing the culture and getting into the direction we want to get going in and stay there on a consistent basis," Murray said.
Murray said that in his previous coaching stints there have been instances such as this one where he has had to bench a key player for a game. He would not give any names, but emphasized that the decision has always been made for the benefit of the team.
"I'm not trying to butt heads with anybody," Murray said. "I'm trying to get players to be the best they can be and I'm trying to put demands on players that this is what the LA Kings need to do in order to be successful. I've always believed that, as I already mentioned, nobody's bigger than the team."
The Kings hope this new line of Frolov-Handzus-Brown can provide the team with some much-needed secondary scoring. The top line of Ryan Smyth, Anze Kopitar, and Justin Williams has been responsible for the majority of the Kings offensive production so far this season, accounting for 14 of the team's 26 goals.
Brown, the Kings captain, said he has not had the chance to talk with Frolov yet about his new linemates or what has transpired in the past few days. Yet Brown did emphasize how important Frolov is to the Kings if they wish to have success this season.
"He's a big part of this team and I know everyone wants him here."