Whatever happens at the 1992 Winter Olympics, Team USA deserves a medal just for getting there to play.
Along with a lot of frequent-flier miles.
The American entry in the '92 Games stopped at the Forum Tuesday night as part of its whirlwind tour of the NHL's U.S. clubs and lost a 5-0 decision to the Kings in an exhibition match that drew an announced crowd of 10,426.
Goalie David Goverde, called up last week by the Kings from their Phoenix Roadrunner farm team, got the shutout, turning away 21 shots.
"Our big problem is with fatigue," Team USA General Manager Larry Johnson said. "The NHL is great to play us, but it's not a real favorable schedule. We have been going back and forth across the country. This is our third trip out here. We've been on 35 different airplanes, and we've still got 20 to go."
The last few days exemplify this marathon schedule. Team USA was in Albany, N.Y., to play Team Canada Saturday and goes east again to face the Blackhawks in Chicago Thursday.
The loss dropped Team USA to 14-21-6, including 3-12-3 against NHL competition. Johnson rates the Soviets, Sweden and Canada as the early Olympic favorites.
"And," he added, "we'll be in there, too."
They weren't in Tuesday's game, much past the national anthem.
John McIntyre scored 29 seconds into the game and added a third-period goal. Tomas Sandstrom, getting a break from his five-game suspension for a stick penalty, also collected two goals. The other one was scored by Mike Donnelly.
King Coach Tom Webster was allowed to interrupt his 12-game suspension for stick throwing to take his place behind the bench Tuesday night.
"It felt very good," he said. "It was nice to be able to change lines and see the effort the players out there made. When they do what they did tonight, it's a simple game to play."
It hasn't been simple of late. The Kings have lost five consecutive NHL games, and even though they won Tuesday, they still lost because the Edmonton Oilers beat the Vancouver Canucks to move ahead of the Kings, dropping them into a tie for fourth in the Smythe Division.
Rob Blake, out since Thanksgiving Day because of a strained ligament in the right knee, was expected back Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets. But his recovery has been slower than anticipated, leaving his return date still up in the air. . . . The Kings brought up four players--defenseman Brent Thompson, center Shawn McCosh and wingers Tim Breslin and Sean Whyte--from their Phoenix Roadrunner farm team for the game.
Given the night off were Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Jari Kurri, Larry Robinson, Dave Taylor, Jay Miller, Charlie Huddy and Tim Watters. . . . The lone member of the Kings' organization to make the Team USA roster is goalie Robb Stauber, who started to work out last week after sitting out since last spring with a knee injury. . . . The shutout was the second against Team USA, the other recorded by the New York Islanders.