Kyle Clifford’s trip to the dentist Wednesday afternoon might have been slightly less painful than expected.
A contract extension for the Kings’ enforcer probably made the visit to the dentist a little more tolerable. Clifford and the Kings reached a five-year agreement worth $8 million, which the team’s hockey operations department said works out to an annual average value of $1.6 million.
Clifford said the sides had been in negotiations since after the All-Star break.
“You know what, I’ve learned over the last five years, nothing is guaranteed in this business,” Clifford said. “So you’ve still got to be a professional, come in and put your work boots on and do your job.”
Clifford’s size (6 feet 2 and 208 pounds), age (24) and potential are among the reasons why his name constantly comes up in trade rumors and why other teams have been known to ask about his availability.
“I can fill the truck up and put food on the table,” Clifford said, smiling.
Clifford has been with the Kings since the 2010-11 season. This season, he has three goals, 10 points and 66 penalty minutes in 57 games. He had seven goals and 14 points in the lockout-shortened season of 48 games in 2013 and dropped to three goals and eight points last season.
“I think there’s still a big upside,” Coach Darryl Sutter said. “He’s a guy that wants to improve and will improve. He’s got a great work ethic and he’s really been an important part of playing his role on our team, which you need on a good team. And he wants to play a bigger role.
“You forget how young he is. He’ll play a bigger role as he continues to improve. I’m glad he doesn’t have to look at it where he is thinking about his contract this summer. He’s got a young family. I’m happy for him.”
The Kings have a youthful core and the peer pressure has paid off on the ice and in terms of off-ice training. Clifford believes it will help him reach his potential.
“With our team, we’ve got a young group,” he said. “I think we’re all pushing each other to get better and reach that next level. I think it’s there. It’s just a matter of working towards it and staying focused and being patient and putting the work in.”
KINGS VS. OTTAWA
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Etc.: The Kings have killed 16 consecutive power plays, a streak that began in a game against Calgary on Feb. 12. Detroit, which has the league’s top power play, was 0 for 5 on the man advantage, the sixth consecutive game the Kings did not give up a power-play goal.
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