March 18, 2011 3:30 pm

Kings to `back off’ on Clifford for now

Kyle Clifford’s status for beyond the weekend is not yet known, but Clifford will not play tomorrow night against Anaheim. Brad Richardson will take Clifford’s spot as the fourth-line left winger alongside Trevor Lewis and Kevin Westgarth. Clifford did not return to last night’s game after his first-period fight with St. Louis’ Ryan Reaves, which included a solid blow to Clifford’s head and a knockdown. Clifford immediately got up and skated off the ice, but shortly thereafter, it was announced that Clifford would not return. Clifford is officially out with an “upper-body injury,” but this week the NHL released new, more stringent guidelines for players who display concussion symptoms. Terry Murray was asked today about those new rules and how they related to Clifford.

MURRAY: “When our trainer came and said that he would not come back — I found out at the end of the first period that he had an upper-body injury and that he would not be back — certainly you think about it then. It’s the right thing. You can’t mess around with those head injuries. You’ve got a (20)-year-old young guy who’s going to be around here for 15, 20 years. You want to make sure that he’s going to get there. You’ve got to do the right thing, and the right thing is to back off and make sure everything is right before he plays again.”

Murray said he was satisfied with the fight that led to Clifford’s injury, believing it to be necessary to help fire up a team that had just allowed a goal and wasn’t playing well.

MURRAY: “Those are the consequences of playing that role. He’s matched up against a guy that’s five or six years older and probably 30 pounds heavier. He’s a big guy. Maybe you would have liked to have seen a switch in partners on those two altercations.”

Reaves is four years older than Clifford and is officially listed as being 18 pounds heavier, but Murray’s point remained the Clifford and Westgarth picked the correct times to try to make statements.

MURRAY: “I thought it was great, I really do. I think that was absolutely what the team needed. We didn’t respond the right way. It was what we needed, though. When you go back in, after a long road trip like that, you need a player to really take on some of that responsibility to fire up the team and say, `Hey, we’re here to play and we’re here to compete.’ He did the right thing, and so did Clifford. He responds the right way, to get us going. These are rookie players. Westgarth is a young guy, a rookie, and Cliffy is (20) years old. He recognized the need for something to spark a fire here, and he tried to do the right thing.”

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