Clifford doesn’t travel to Detroit; Vilardi out tonight, evaluation Monday

Kyle Clifford didn’t return after this hit from Vegas’ Pierre-Edouard Bellemare:

Clifford did not travel with the team to Detroit after the game, and that’s a pretty big concern. He suffered a concussion on Byron Bitz’s boarding major in the 2012 first round series against Vancouver, as well as a “head” injury in a March, 2011 fight with St. Louis’ Ryan Reaves, an “upper-body” injury in a November, 2013 game against Vancouver in which Darryl Sutter told reporters “he got his bell rung,” and an “upper-body injury” requiring “protocol” when he was elbowed in the face by Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman in December, 2015.

There was optimism that should Clifford be deemed fit after further evaluation that he’d rejoin the team midway through the four-game road trip. While this is a player eternally driven to claw, scrape and battle his way back into a uniform as quickly as he can – he traveled to Columbus and took a morning skate but suffered through an onset of symptoms prior to the first game after the Hedman elbow and returned home that night – who has a lengthy list of head injuries. Here’s to hoping that a healthy Clifford gracefully passes any and all tests and that these injuries at no point affect his quality of life.

That’s a bad hit by Bellemare, one that’s a pretty standard Rule 48 violation. “He got his head, for sure, so the league will have to take a look at it,” Willie Desjardins said.

These types of hits often come with two-game suspensions in the regular season. Drew Doughty was suspended for Game 2 in the Los Angeles-Vegas first round playoff series for his check to the head of William Carrier. Doughty said that teammates had said the Bellemare hit “got all head.”

“I can’t really say too much about it,” he said. “Just from what I’ve heard from the other guys, because like I said, I didn’t see it too well, but I heard it was a pretty dirty hit, and we have a history with this team against us because of me, so we’ll see what happens.”


Additional news of concern: Gabe Vilardi did not play for Ontario in Tucson Saturday night and will be evaluated by Los Angeles doctors on Monday, per hockey ops. Vilardi had one assist through four games in his Ontario conditioning assignment.

Vilardi, 19, has dealt with back and hip injuries predating his selection 11th overall at the 2017 NHL Draft. Most recently, he was off the ice in early November as he dealt with a tight hip flexor. The Kings’ plan, after a workout, skating, practicing and playing crescendo, was that Vilardi would be evaluated after returning home from his conditioning assignment, and that if he checked off a full bill of health would be loaned to Canada’s world juniors selection camp. That’s in question, though more will be known after Monday’s evaluation. The Kings already have one player, Jaret Anderson-Dolan (wrist), who was invited to Canada’s camp but is doubtful for the tournament because of injury.

–Lead photo via Juan Ocampo/NHLI

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