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Kings' Scuderi returns home to face Isles

by Brian Compton /
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The Los Angeles Kings have spent the entire month of February on the road. Naturally, they're aching to get home.

But on Saturday, defenseman Rob Scuderi was home.

The 32-year-old is in familiar territory as the Kings face the New York Islanders on Saturday night at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It's about a 20-minute drive from where Scuderi grew up in Bethpage.

"No matter how many times you come back, it's always fun to play in front of your hometown crowd," Scuderi told "It's just another game, but it's still always fun."

Scuderi, who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, grew up rooting for the team he faces Saturday night -- the franchise that won 19 consecutive playoff series and four straight Stanley Cups when he was a child.

"I was definitely an Islanders fan... I hated the Rangers," Scuderi admitted. "I feel a little bit differently now. But definitely back then, I hated the Rangers."

The Boston College product lives in the Beantown area with his wife during the summer, but always makes time to return to his first home -- especially when the craving for New York pizza and other delicacies kick in.

"No matter how many times you come back, it's always fun to play in front of your hometown crowd. It's just another game, but it's still always fun."
-- Rob Scuderi

"I come back to visit," said Scuderi, a fifth-round draft pick by the Penguins (No. 134) in 1998. "We've been up there for a while, but we always come back to visit for a couple of weeks, if not a little longer. I can't go without some of the food for too long."

With Scuderi now in Los Angeles, he doesn't get to play in New York very often. But when he does, he makes sure to visit his parents, who still live in the home where Scuderi grew up. They'll also be in attendance when the puck drops Saturday night.

"Whenever we come into down, I always pull over for dinner or lunch, just to be where I'm originally from," said Scuderi, who has 2 goals and 12 assists in 58 games for the Kings this season. "They're still in the same place. They don't seem to be moving anytime soon. I think they'll be there for a while. They'll be here tonight. It's only a 20-minute drive with traffic. It's a nice change from the 6-hour flight."

When his parents get to their seats, they'll quickly realize that Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum looks exactly the same as it did when they took Scuderi to Islanders games during his childhood years. The Isles' lease with Nassau County expires in 2015 and there is no deal in place for a new arena. Scuderi believes a winning team can accelerate such negotiations.

"It's just like anywhere... if you have a good team on the ice, people will come to the games," Scuderi said. "They will support the team. I think hockey-wise, they're going in the right direction. But it certainly would be nice to see a new facility in the area. There's been a lot of loyal fans for a long time. If they got something in place, I think this organization would really take off and flourish here. If not, who knows what's going to happen?"

Scuderi scoffed at the perception by some that the Islanders don't have the fan support to move forward. History, though, has dictated that the people here will come out to see a winning product. With players such as Kyle Okposo and John Tavares now in the mix, Scuderi is hopeful that it won't be long before the Islanders are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"There's a huge population here," Scuderi said. "I think the fans have been waiting a long time for a positive direction for this team. I think they're doing the right thing by stocking themselves with young players, young talent. Hopefully it's something to build around for a few years. It would be nice if the other side of it could come with it. We'll all see what happens."

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL
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