Updates with quotes from Kyle Clifford, Reign head coach Mike Stothers and Derek Forbort
The Kings announced on Thursday that they have assigned forward Kyle Clifford to the Ontario Reign for a conditioning assignment. He participated in practice when the Reign took the ice at 1 p.m. at Citizens Business Bank Arena and will skate in both games for the team on Friday and Saturday, Reign head coach Mike Stothers confirmed after practice.
Clifford has not played in a game since suffering an upper-body injury on Dec. 6, 2015, when Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman elbowed him in the face.
It’s the perfect time for Clifford to get extra work in, as the NHL is on its All-Star break and the rugged forward will be able to continue skating while his NHL teammates take time off. The Kings lost 4-3 at home to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night and won’t play again until next Tuesday in Arizona.
The Reign play Friday night in San Diego at 7 p.m. and then host Manitoba on Saturday at 6 p.m. Curt Gogol already wears No. 13 for the Reign, so Clifford will wear No. 17 with Ontario. On Thursday Clifford was skating with center Andrew Crescenzi and right wing Justin Auger.
Clifford has been limited to 26 games with the Kings (0 goals, 3 assists, 29 PIM).
Kyle Clifford, on being excited to play against:
It’s fun and it’s good to just get back playing, just get in a routine. I know a lot of the guys from camp here and obviously familiar with a few of the guys so it’s good just to be down here and see how they’re doing and it’s going to be fun tomorrow to get my first game back and get going.
Clifford, on how ready he feels to jump into a game:
Obviously with this type of injury it’s tough. It’s going to be a fun game and I’m looking forward to it. Obviously there’s some areas to address there, that’s why coming down here to get my hands and my feet and every part of my game, get back to where I want it to be.
Clifford, on the conditioning assignment:
I’m just taking it one day at a time. Obviously the focus is to get back and be 100 percent and be ready to get back up there and help the team win, that’s the main goal. But obviously there’s a couple steps that I need to take to get to that point.
Clifford, on the convenience factor of the AHL being in Ontario:
Oh, absolutely. It’s great that they moved the teams out there. Makes it a lot easier, especially guys with families and things like that when we do have to come down on a conditioning [assignment], makes that transition a lot easier. You’re not sitting on a plane and you know what’s going on and you’re still close to home.
Clifford, on what he knows about the rivalry with San Diego:
I think it’s going to be everything that it is up there. There’s definitely a rivalry and we’ve got a lot of NHL prospects down here and guys that have played and they’ve got guys there too and they know what it’s all about. It’s going to be fun.
Reign head coach Mike Stothers, on the convenience factor for both sides:
It makes the whole concept of us coming out here and only being 60 miles away make sense. They can do that, send guys down, get some conditioning stints or they can bring guys up. That’s why it is what it is. I think it’s great.
Stothers, on Clifford joining the team:
He’s excited about it. Cliffy’s excited to play and get his game timing back and hopefully he can go up and help the Kings again. We’re excited to have him. It’s an NHL player.
Stothers, on if he will monitor Clifford’s minutes:
When you come back and you’re basically cleared to play, I don’t think there’s going to be any issues. I know how hard they work up there, the extras get a lot of skating and off-ice workouts. I don’t think conditioning is going to be a problem for him. I just think maybe some timing. But again, he’s an NHL player playing in the American League so it should be good.
Stothers, on why it’s good timing for the Reign, too:
It’s always good when you know they’re here and when they’re leaving. For him as an individual and us as a team. He comes through the door and then you have guys who are like, ‘oh no, we’ve got an extra guy, I’m out, or who’s out.” Or whatever, you kind of just say hey listen, fellas, it’s a two-game stint. It’s to benefit the Kings and that’s why we are here. Get their guys back and ready to play as soon as possible.
Derek Forbort, on Clifford being in Ontario:
He’s going to bring what he always brings. He’s a really good player. He’s hard to play against and he’s obviously a very tough kid. It’s nice having him down here and definitely lucky to have him.