Kings make player moves, say more could come
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi’s eye still looked awful, and the contrite player who inflicted the damage, Brandon Dubinsky of Columbus, found his wallet $10,000 lighter.
That was the backdrop to several other developments. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter called out his young defense following Wednesday’s practice here. And, unrelated, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi made his second trade since the lockout ended, sending the once-promising Andrei Loktionov to New Jersey for a fifth-round draft pick in 2013.
Just another quiet day for the Stanley Cup champions.
There were indications of other moves. Sutter did more than hint at the potential adjustments if the defense didn’t raise its level. Sutter hit that point when asked about 25-year-old defenseman Andrew Campbell, who was called up earlier in the day from the minors in Manchester, N.H.; defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk was sent back.
“Hey, we need [Jake] Muzzin and [Alec] Martinez and [Davis] Drewiske to be a lot better players for us,” Sutter said. “Otherwise we’re gonna look at other players. That’s the way I see it.”
What could be the precursor to a bigger move was the small deal between the Stanley Cup finalists. In fact, it was the first trade between Lombardi and one of his early mentors, Lou Lamoriello of the Devils, since Lombardi joined the Kings in 2006.
With the Kings’ logjam at center, there was no fit for Loktionov. They tried to move him last season with minimal interest, and his agent, Igor Larionov, had been wanting a new location for his client for a long time.
Loktionov had three goals and seven points in 39 games with the Kings last season, and his status was reinforced when they did not invite him to training camp after the lockout ended.
“You’ve got the issue that after his contract is up he could go back to Russia,” Lombardi said. “You just try to make the best deal you can.”
The Kings have won three times in eight games this season, including Tuesday night at Columbus. Escaping serious injury against the Blue Jackets was Scuderi, who was hit from behind into the end boards by Dubinsky in the second period.
Dubinsky had a telephone hearing with the league and was fined $10,000 — the maximum allowed in the new contract — and was not suspended. He had never been suspended in his career.
“People who know me understand that I’m not that kind of player and I hope he knows that,” Dubinsky told the Columbus Dispatch. “I apologize for hurting him or hitting him that way. It was never my intention for it to happen that way.”
Scuderi, who said Tuesday he felt it was kind of “open season” on some defensemen, said he did not have any lingering effects from the hit.
“Bark’s worse than the bite,” he said. “Looks worse than it is. I’m OK. … I have not seen the hit yet. I know that it probably wasn’t the way 95% of forwards would do it in this league.”
Scuderi said it was the league’s job to determine discipline. His teammate, captain Dustin Brown took issue with the league’s decision not to suspend Dubinsky.
“I thought it was an awful hit,” Brown said. “I don’t know what to say to that, really. I guess I disagree. It’s a dangerous play. That same play probably happens 10 times a game but it’s just a rub-out, not a finishing check. The D [defense] get their face in the glass quite a bit with the new rules.”