February 21, 2011 3:30 pm

Loktionov `only a phone call away’

As you might have heard, Andrei Loktionov didn’t make it back to California with the Kings. In fact, Loktionov was in the lineup for Manchester on Sunday after his latest 12-game stint with the Kings. After practice today, Terry Murray took his third — and, in fact, fourth — turn at explaining why Loktionov didn’t stay in the lineup. As a side note, while there’s no assurance that Loktionov will be back soon, the NHL’s roster limit of 23 players is removed on March 1. However, teams must still stay under the salary cap, and a maximum of three non-injury moves are allowed. Here were Murray’s further thoughts on Loktionov’s move to the AHL, starting with whether it was a difficult choice for the Kings to send him down…

MURRAY: “Yeah, it was. He played well for us, and I love the kid. He brings skill level, a great competitive attitude. He is a player who is going to be a long-time player for the L.A. Kings. I felt, as we got through that road trip, it’s a hard road trip. Emotionally, physically, it’s very demanding. You’re traveling late night, every night, and there were a couple of games where he was starting to get exposed on system play. Right now, we’re in a position where we have to execute all of the details of the game. That’s where you have to make a decision on him. The bottom line, though, is that he’s only a phone call away. He can get himself some rest, start to get gathered in and contribute with Manchester, and he’s only a phone call away, and we can make that call and get him back.”

Question: It seemed like, for a while there, he was one of your better players…

MURRAY: “He played good for us. That’s what I was just saying. He played very well. We got him back to the center position, and that’s where his game started to look more comfortable. He had the puck on his stick a lot. He scored a nice goal in Washington, off a rebound by Clifford. Overall, his game was good. But you get into those real competitive games, as we were in against the Rangers. It’s one goal, it’s back and forth. There were three or four different looks that they had that were because of losing some coverage. Points are everything for us right now. He just got exposed in it, so I had to make a decision on the lineup the next night against the Islanders, and he was the guy who came out.”

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