The Kings abandoned the idea of starting the season with 19-year-old rookie Mark Fitzpatrick in goal, sending him to their farm team in New Haven, Conn., Monday.
"We don't want to start the kid too fast," General Manager Rogie Vachon said. "The kid's going to be the future, and we want him to start the right way.
"If he had been more outstanding than the other guys, he wouldn't have given us a choice. But we can bring him back any time we want."
The Kings, who play the Winnipeg Jets in an exhibition tonight in San Diego, have three goalies on the roster--returnees Rollie Melanson and Glenn Healy, and ex-King Doug Keans, a free-agent tryout. Melanson has been the best of the three so far, which would seem to leave Healy and Keans to contest the other spot.
Vachon said he must decide by Monday's waiver draft whether to offer Keans a contract. Teams are allowed to protect 18 skaters and 2 goalies in the draft. Players with two years' experience or less and goalies with 3 years experience or less do not have to be protected, Vachon said.
Wayne Gretzky, Dave Taylor and Mike Krushelnyski returned from Ontario, where they attended the funeral of Marty McSorley's mother, but it is uncertain whether they will play tonight, Vachon said. McSorley, who left the team more than a week ago, also returned but is not expected to play.