When the Los Angeles Kings officially return from their All-Star break on Tuesday, they will do so while welcoming Kyle Clifford back into the fold.
The 25-year-old has been out of the lineup since Dec. 6 when he was the unfortunate recipient of an elbow to the face courtesy of Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman. Clifford was officially listed as having an upper-body injury and has missed 23 games as a result.
Before he was recalled by the Kings, though, Clifford had a two-game conditioning stint up the road in Ontario as he now holds the distinction of playing for both the ECHL and AHL versions of the Reign and the Kings.
Just prior to Monday’s AHL All-Star Classic in Syracuse, myself and Jeff Duarte of CaliSportsNews caught up with Reign head coach Mike Stothers where we asked him about Clifford’s conditioning stint.
“He was good. I mean he was what you’d think an NHL player would be,” Stothers said. “[Clifford is] a role player, he knows what his job is on the ice and he bangs and crashes and you know, he was good.”
While he was in Ontario to get back into game shape, Clifford’s presence was beneficial to the players in another way as well.
“You could just see that he was important for our guys that he was in our room for those two games because they have a lot of questions on what it’s like to be in the NHL,” Stothers continued. “So, I think it was good. It was a good for our guys but good for the Kings too because now they’re getting a guy who’s in game shape and after a long injury. He’s ready to step back in the lineup.”
In his two-game stint with the Reign, Clifford recorded six shots on goal and took a roughing penalty in the latter contest vs. San Diego. In 26 games for the Kings this season, Clifford has three assists.
The Kings return from the All-Star break with a seven-point lead in the Pacific Division and fans can be sure that their team will receive an inspirational boost when Clifford is inserted back into the lineup.