It’s always a pleasure to cover the St. Louis Blues. Their players are usually thoughtful and forthright during interviews and their coach, Ken Hitchcock, delivers a coaching seminar every time he speaks.
There were two additional reasons to welcome their visit to Anaheim on Friday: the presence of all-time NHL wins and shutouts leader Martin Brodeur, who is scheduled to start against the Ducks on Friday night, and the return to the NHL of former Kings forward Colin Fraser, who was just called up from the minor leagues. Fraser, popular with his Kings teammates and fans alike for his strong work ethic, will center the Blues’ fourth line against the Ducks at Honda Center.
Fraser, 29, was not retained by the Kings after they won the Stanley Cup last season and he signed with the Blues as a free agent in September. A three-time Cup champion — once with the Chicago Blackhawks and twice with the Kings — he didn’t make the Blues’ season-opening roster but was called up from the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves on Wednesday.
Although Fraser didn’t play in the playoffs, he was voted a full playoff share by his Kings teammates. He said the Kings sent his Stanley Cup ring to him in Chicago, but he doesn’t wear it.
“It looks really nice,” he said. “I’m a conservative guy. I try to keep it locked up until somebody asks to see it.
“I’ve got three of them. I’m collecting them one at a time. Hopefully, now that I’m back in the NHL, we can get that rolling again.”
Hitchcock said the Blues called up Fraser because “he adds an element of grit and determination and moxie that we need.” Hitchcock added, “I think one of the things we’re finding out is on these good teams, the teams with really good records, it’s the strength of their third and fourth lines that are really being the difference for Nashville or here or L.A. or wherever …
“Us getting more stabilization and harder play from the third and fourth lines is going to be able to match what these other teams are doing because you can really see it.”
Fraser played only 33 regular-season games for the Kings last season and no playoff games, though he skated in the warmups and practiced with the regulars, not the minor-leaguers. However, he found himself without a contract most of the summer and signed with the Blues on Sept. 5. He had seven goals and 12 points in 32 games with their AHL farm team this season.
“I’ve been in the minors but still playing my game and trying to do what got me here in the first place,” he said. “Unfortunately a couple guys got hurt here but hopefully I could fill the void and kind of reestablish myself and make a name for myself again here in the NHL.”
Fraser said he had fond memories of his time in Southern California. “Los Angeles was a good home for me. I thoroughly enjoyed my time,” he said. “I miss the guys, the best group of guys. It sounds cliche, but when you win with guys, it really was an awesome group. I still talk to them. They give me the gears a little bit. It’s fun to be back. I looked at the schedule in hopes we were going to L.A., but we’re not.”
Brodeur, 42, apparently will remain with the Blues for another week, allowing Jake Allen to do some specialized work in practice while Brian Elliott gets the bulk of the work.
";I'm enjoying it,"; Brodeur said. ";I'm fortunate to have this opportunity on a good team like this. Every time they give me the net, it's like this is another opportunity to kind of prove I can still play and try to help this team. I signed here not knowing exactly what the future will bring me, but it's been over a month now and I'm feeling more and more comfortable and they seem to feel comfortable also with me.";
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