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Training Camp Notebook (Sept. 24)

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Rich Clune is a little nicer in the kitchen than he is on the ice.

On the ice, Rich Clune is known to stir up trouble with opponents. In the locker room, he’s always been known to come up with a good quip.

In the kitchen, though, Clune apparently is all business.

In the Kings’ preseason fitness and conditioning tests, Clune scored highest among all Kings players. During his time with the Kings, Clune has always been in shape, but it seems as though a change in diet and lifestyle has given him an extra boost.

Listening to Clune, it sounds as though he would fit just as easily on The Food Network as he would the NHL Network. Ask Clune about his breakfast, for instance, and he talks passionately and intelligently about the "science" behind what he eats.

"I’ll have some sort of animal protein, steak, ground beef, chicken, any kind of wild beef, whatever I can get," Clune said. "Then you have your starchy carb, like oatmeal or sweet potato. If you wanted, you could put brown rice in there. You just don’t want to have cereal, and that’s it. There’s a whole science behind how your body digests things.

"Get some fruit in you. You basically want to have three dinners a day, and two small snacks. It might seem a little bit weird to some people, but once you get in that routine, I’ve seen my body change in five months."

Clune was one of the young players who led the way, physically, for the Kings at the start of camp. Team captain Dustin Brown was second in testing, followed by prospects Andrei Loktionov and Kyle Clifford. Veteran winger Justin Williams was fifth.

Clune is, essentially, in a competition with Clifford and John Zeiler for a fourth-line role, and his ability to skate well, draw penalties and irritate opponents makes him a valuable addition to the roster. Being known as the best-conditioned player doesn’t hurt either.

"When I was really young, I worked very hard," Clune said. "At 14, 15, 16, I was a really focused kid. My parents had me in private school, and when I sort of got out into the `real world,’ I might have lost some of that structure. It has taken trial and error to find that. At 23, I really feel I have a good routine going, and I’m focused and centered."

INJURY REPORT
Goalie Erik Ersberg, who missed five days of practice with a sore hand, returned Saturday, as did winger Scott Parse, who missed one day with a sore foot.

Coach Terry Murray said he wasn’t sure if Ersberg would play in Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Anaheim Ducks. Ersberg is in competition with Jonathan Bernier for the backup goalie spot, and Bernier has already played five periods in preseason.

BACK TO WORK
After a day off, and a large round of cuts that took the roster down to 32 healthy players, the Kings returned to the ice Saturday morning for an intense two-hour practice.

The Kings are 1-1-1 in the preseason so far, and after Saturday’s practice, Murray talked about some of the issues he thought needed to be addressed.

"Neutral-zone play was the big issue for me, on both sides of the puck," Murray said. "Checking-wise, I watched the game at Phoenix on my computer, and there were a couple times, whenever the middle of the ice got exposed, that they walked in and had a couple of breakaways. That's just awareness, and part of the practice here today was to focus on the neutral-zone forecheck.

"Then, on the other side of it, we're trying to get the puck up the ice faster. That `north' attitude, to get on the puck, is important, and the only way you can instill that in the players this early in the training camp is to do a lot of reps on it. So that was the main focus. Then again, at the end, you saw the skate for conditioning. I liked today. It was good, hard work." Murray said the next roster cuts would come after Tuesday’s exhibition game against the Ducks at STAPLES Center.

COMING UP

The Kings will practice at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo at 10 a.m. Sunday.
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