Darryl Sutter shrugged off the suggestion that tomorrow’s game might be a cause for concern. The once-again-hot Chicago Blackhawks are in town, and the Kings will be trying to incorporate two players — Jeff Carter and Slava Voynov — into the lineup, and that’s assuming Carter is able to play. The Kings will hope that excitement of a new addition will supersede any trade-deadline distraction. After practice today, Sutter spoke at length about Carter joining the team and the impact of the trade…
SUTTER: “Well, obviously it’s a name that the organization is very familiar with. I think Dean and Ron Hextall and John Stevens are all very familiar with Jeff, so it’s a name that they’ve brought up before. You’ve got to give to get, right? You’re getting an awesome forward and you’re giving up a good, young defenseman.’’
Question: Can Voynov step in and fill (Johnson’s) role?
SUTTER: “Absolutely. Everybody looks at it as, you’re in a playoff race or whatever, and you’re just looking to fill that hole, but Dean’s vision, in the long-term part of it, is a player like Slava playing. We sent him down, and everybody thinks you send guys down because they’re not playing well. It’s that, where he’s got to play, he wasn’t fitting. So now we need him to play in that spot.’’
Question: Do you think Carter can get back to that top-level scoring?
SUTTER: “I’ve never seen any of us be right in (predicting) that. The bottom line is, sometimes it happens quick, sometimes it takes time. That’s the most important part. You want him to come in and play well and play his game, and then go from there. The familiarity, not only with Richards but a lot of guys — those guys in that age group, he has played with a lot of these guys — so it’s not like he’s unfamiliar with the group.’’
Question: Does it help him to have people around here that he’s familiar with?
SUTTER: “It’s always a comfort level for players. First off, it’s not easy being traded, and it’s not easy only for the players coming in but also for the players already in there. So if there is a friendship or relationship with somebody, I think it’s critical. All you do is put yourself in their shoes, as young players. It’s different, maybe, for an older player who has moved around, or an established veteran. Just take a step back and pretend you’re them, and you understand how difficult it could be, or would be.’’
Question: Do you know where he will play?
SUTTER: “Obviously we have two No. 1 centermen, in Kopitar and Richards, so he’s got to play wing. If you have two No. 1 centermen, he’s a right winger and he’s going to play right wing with one of those two guys.’’
Question: Do you know if he played with Richards a lot in Philly?
SUTTER: “They played off and on. That’s really got nothing to do with this. They’ve played together, not just in Philadelphia but in other tournaments, in other situations. It’s more that those kids are the same age, and they basically grew up together (in hockey).’’
Question: What will tomorrow be like, with the uncertainty of Carter playing and Voynov coming in?
SUTTER: “I don’t think there’s any uncertainty, not at all. Slava is familiar with what we do, and that’s not a problem. He has played with Willie before, and that’s not a problem. Jeff is excited to be here. You still pull them on and lace them up the same way. I don’t think there’s any uncertainty.’’
Question: Do you think Carter will play tomorrow?
SUTTER: “We’re counting on it. Both Jack and Jeff have to clear medically. You have as good a handle on that as I would.’’