A few notes on this rainy Monday in SoCal. It was a “work day” as head coach Mike Stothers likes to call it, a day of practice that ends with a lengthy conditioning skate.
SCUDERI HAS LANDED
A familiar face in the organization joined the Reign for the first time as veteran Rob Scuderi took part in his first practice with his new teammates.
It’s been a whirlwind time of sorts for the defenseman, who was placed on waivers and after clearing through was assigned by the Kings to Ontario.
“Certainly for me it’s not the ideal situation,” said Scuderi, who broke into the NHL in 2003-04 season. “I’ve been in the NHL for a long time but I’m here and I’m trying to do what’s asked of me, whether it be play or help young guys or work with some other people on the team, I’m not quite sure but we’ll see how it goes.”
For the 37-year-old, two-time Cup champion, this will certainly be a big change.
“We talked before practice and kind of laid out a game plan for this week and going forward. I thought he did pretty well,” head coach Mike Stothers said. “He said he hasn’t skated since last Thursday I believe so it’s never great to come into our environment on a ‘work day’ but guess you might as well get used to it and get it out of the way and I thought he did well. I think that’s good. It will be nice to have him around. He’s got a wealth of experience and certainly as we’ve talked about with the young D that we have, some of them are very close to playing in the NHL. I think he’d be a big help to us.”
Scuderi’s resume sets him apart from other veterans on the team, but Stothers isn’t looking for him to do too much more than what comes natural: “He’s going to be a player and he’s going to be no different than the other core guys or veteran guys that we have,” the coach said.
One notable obstacle for Scuderi is that he currently resides in the South Bay, as most players in the Kings organization do. For now his plan is to make the commute to Ontario.
“I’ve always had pretty good perspective in life so like I said, it’s not what you hope for but sometimes stuff happens and you move on,” he said. “I’ve moved my family out here to California and we don’t want to be apart from each other so I’ll probably just make the commute. People make that commute all the time, sometimes more. It’s not a big deal but with my family here and my kids already in school I’m not interested in moving them or making them change again.”
So what was today’s drive like? “I saw the people going the other way so I was OK,” he said.
Added Stothers: “He’s willing to try to make it work and we’re willing to try and accommodate him and his family, what’s best for them. … It might become a bit of a grind at points during the course of the season but today was day one. So, let’s just see how it plays out. In time maybe he might find it’s tough to go back and forth and maybe we come up with another arrangement. Maybe he stays here overnight, maybe hops in [if] somebody’s got an extra room. That can be worked out. If he needs a hotel we’ll get him a hotel.”
On the ice though, there’s plenty of young defensemen who could learn a lot from a player of Scuderi’s caliber, even if he was paired with Paul Bissonnette at today’s practice.
He’s hoping he can provide wisdom along the way.
“You never want to limit where you can get information from or help,” he said. “Whether it be someone who played the position at the highest level or not. You don’t ever not take advice just because of that but I think if you are the type of person that can use their experiences constructively and pass those on to the next generation of player it can always be a helpful thing and hopefully that’s part of what I can do here.”
Stothers, on Scuderi being a winner and what he can offer:
I think it’s huge. You always want to surround yourself with winners. Whatever level of championship it is. Paul LaDue won a championship. Scuds has won championships. It’s good to have those people around. They know what it takes to win. They know how hard it is to win and so I think that’s great. He’s going to have the respect because he’s a good person. He’s had a very great career and he’s a very humble guy. He’s very easy to like. So he’s going to fit in well with our group and as we talked about with Scuds before practice today is you’re going to like our environment. It’s a good bunch of guys. And we talked about it after the game the other night, it seems like it’s a half-decent team. It’s not like we’re bottom-feeders, I hope we’re not. We better not be. But that makes it fun. When you get a little bit longer in the tooth it’s kind of nice to be around some young guys that are eager and hungry. Scuds can approach it like Hajter and I do. It’s kind of rewarding to see these guys make it to the NHL and have a great career or get a taste of it or get their first NHL game. I’m sure Scuds will appreciate that and he’ll look forward to it as well.
Scuderi, on his first impressions:
First of all I think this is an awesome facility. The way things are run is incredibly professional and I think it offers itself to developing talent which is what this league is all about. The coaching staff’s been great. I’ve gotten to know them through training camp and just through being around whether it be at the Kings facility. Even last year having seen them around they’re good people and they want the best for their players, which is, like I said, what this league’s all about.
Defenseman Erik Cernak was not on the ice and will soon be officially reassigned by the Kings to the Erie Otters of the OHL. Cernak was a healthy scratch in Saturday’s opener against San Diego.
“He is returning back to junior today, Erie,” Stothers said. “I think it’s good that he’s going back to play. He’ll play a lot of minutes and it’s a good team and it’s a good coach (Kris Knoblauch) that they have there so it’s a good setup for him. Probably better than, you can always say it’s great, you’re here, you’re practicing. You’ve got to play and we can’t guarantee him that at this stage so I think it’s good for him and yeah, he left this morning.”
Defenseman Paul LaDue (lower-body) was not practicing. LaDue suffered the injury last Thursday in practice and missed the season opener but has been working out.
“He can work out, he has some limitations with the injury,” Stothers said. “Again, it’s one of those ones where you’ve kind of got to evaluate it every day and see where we’re at. We’re hoping that he’s going to be available for this weekend. It’d be really nice to get that young man on the ice and see what he can do. But again, you can’t rush it. We’ll see how it goes the rest of the week.
On the flip side, fellow blue-liner Zac Leslie is turning the corner towards healthy. Leslie suffered a lower-body injury during the Kings vs. Kings exhibition in late September and has not played since. He’s been restricted in practices to wearing a red no-contact jersey but was a full-go Monday.
“I’ve got to double-check with our trainer but I think he’s cleared to play,” Stothers said. “I think today was going to be a hurdle that he passed as far as I know unless he’s had any setbacks before or after we’ve gotten together here. I think Les will be cleared to play and he should be fine.”