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Old pal Richards, Kings excited to welcome Carter

by Curtis Zupke /
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- One of the first things that Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter did after Los Angeles acquired Jeff Carter was consult Mike Richards.

Did he want to ask Richards about Carter's character? Quiz him about Carter's game?

Well, yes, but Sutter had one specific question for Richards:

"How would you like to play with Jeff Carter?"

Sutter seemed to be among the most excited to get Carter, who was acquired from Columbus for defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick in either 2012 or 2013 late Thursday night.


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Los Angeles' coach didn't specifically say which line Carter will play on, but the aforementioned question suggests Carter will be reunited with Richards on the second line.

The two, traded on the same day this past summer out of Philadelphia, didn't actually play much together on a line with the Flyers but there is a lot of familiarity there.

"He's a good player," Richards said. "He is easy to play with. It won't take us long to get that chemistry back."

Richards talked to Carter briefly on Thursday night and the two presumably joked about landing in the same place after Philadelphia sent both out in one fell swoop.

Carter reportedly did not take his trade to Columbus well, and Richards' departure from the Flyers was later marred by a story that cited his partying as a reason for the trade.

Richards can presumably help Carter blend into L.A. Asked if he has a room for Carter at his beach house, Richards joked, "Not yet. We haven't worked out anything yet. But I do have an extra room, so we'll see.

"I think he'll be fine. We've got a good team here. I think we have a lot of good guys off the ice and I think he'll just come in and be himself. He's obviously excited to get there and get back playing. We're in the playoff hunt. We've got a lot of work to do on the ice and it's going to be exciting for him to come in and know some people here and hopefully get off on the right foot."

Carter had not yet arrived in L.A. and needs to pass a physical. Asked if he expected Carter to play Saturday against Chicago, Sutter said, "We're counting on it."

Whether the Kings can count on a boost in scoring because of Carter remains to be seen.

The enthusiasm about Carter at practice Friday morning was underlined by a sense of guilt that they made the trade from this position -- 30th in the NHL in scoring.

"Of course we're not naïve to the fact that, as a group, collectively, we haven't done the job as good as we wanted or scored as many goals as we wanted," defenseman Willie Mitchell said. "It's pretty obvious we're underachieving a little bit in that department and sometimes you need a little kick in the pants, a little spike to get things going. Obviously (general manager) Dean (Lombardi) felt that was necessary.

"We can't look to one guy and say he's going to come in here and be the answer. Is he going to be part of the answer? Absolutely. But part of the answer is all of us doing a better job of putting some pucks in the back of the net."


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Among those who need to do that more often is captain Dustin Brown, who found himself addressing his own trade rumors after TSN's Bob McKenzie reported Brown was "in play" and teams have shown interest.

"I can't say you don't think about it, but more along the lines of getting here, getting on the ice and working on what I need to do to play well on Saturday because ultimately that's my main focus is being the best I can for every game," said Brown, who is second in the League in hits but has only 14 goals and 31 points. "Like I said, it's the same thing every year around this time. Your name gets thrown out there. Other names get thrown out. At the end of the day you got to get yourself ready to play. You can't worry about stuff that hasn't happened yet."

It also remains to be seen whether the Kings' stellar defense will suffer from the loss of Johnson, once thought to be a cornerstone with Drew Doughty.

Johnson was also well-liked in the room.

"From a personality standpoint -- you see guys come and go," Brown said. "That's probably one of the best things about playing in this league is regardless of trades or free agent signings, you develop friendships that will last, beyond a trade or a guy moving off a team or a guy moving on a team. From a personnel standpoint, it's a hockey decision. You've got to give up something in order to get something in return."

The Kings recalled Slava Voynov from the AHL to take Johnson's spot on the blue line. Andrei Loktionov was sent down because of the jam at center, as Sutter doesn't want Loktionov to play fourth-line minutes.

Sutter wasn't certain how long it might take for Carter to click with his new teammates.

"I think the bottom line is, sometimes it happens quick and sometimes it takes time, and that's the most important part of looking at it," Sutter said.

"You want him to come in and play well and play his game and then go from there. The familiarity with Richards…he's in that age group. He's played with a lot of these guys, so it's not like he's unfamiliar with the group."

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