January 14, 2011 2:14 pm

Surprise demotion for Handzus

Often, a coach changes a player’s role because he is dissatisfied with the player’s work ethic. Nothing could be further from reality when it comes to Michal Handzus, who is recognized as one of the hardest-working players on the Kings roster. That made it particularly surprising to see Handzus skating in a fourth-line role in practice Friday. That’s where he is scheduled to play tomorrow against Edmonton, even though Handzus has three goals in his last five games. Fortunes can change dramatically for Kings players now, it seems. Just a few days ago, Brad Richardson was in the healthy-scratch doghouse, and now he has moved into Handzus’ spot. Terry Murray talked about the move today, as did Handzus…

MURRAY: “To me, he’s going through a little bit of a difficult time right now, a rough stretch where he’s working hard, and the only way to get through it is through hard work. I’m not necessarily backing off on his importance or his minutes played. I want to use the four lines, to be able to keep a tempo and get our game back. But I still, in saying that, feel that he’s going through a bit of a tough stretch here, right now, with his play — which has been checking as the focal point over the time that I’ve known him, and he has played so well in that area — and there are just a few situations that are creeping into his game. I talked to him today, and we need to get back to his kind of a game.”

HANDZUS: “We talked about it. The bottom line is, I’ve got to get better. Obviously, I wasn’t real happy with my game last night, and I’ve got to get better. I’m not going to read too much into it. I think it’s normal for a coach to do what he’s trying to do. My thing is, I’m just trying to get better. There’s not much more to it.”

Handzus, known as a quiet leader and one of the Kings’ most intelligent players, also gave his thoughts on the latest 1-7 skid…

HANDZUS: “At times, it’s not only about Xs and Os. It’s about us playing the game. Sometimes we look so good and then, even in the same game, at other times we look so bad. I think that inconsistency is hurting us, big time, and that’s what we have to change. We have to be way more consistent, to play the game, compete, work hard, win the battles and do all those things. I think that’s the most important thing. I think we are losing too many board battles, and I think that is hurting us. We don’t come up with the pucks in our zone and in their zone. It’s all about us getting better, everybody, just doing the little things better, winning some more battles and being more consistent. It’s me, too. I’m way too inconsistent this season, which is hurting us. I have to get more consistent and put a little more focus on it and just play the same way every game.

“We’re going to turn it around. We’ve got a great team here. If you get it right, it’s going to make us a better team, for sure. I really believe that we’re going to be a better team because of what we’ve been through so far. But we’ve got to get it right, right away.”

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