The most important news regarding the Kings did not take place in their fight-filled 4-3 exhibition victory over the San Jose Sharks at the Forum.
Instead, it occurred earlier Wednesday when the team agreed to terms with left wing Tony Granato.
Granato, 29, is coming off his finest NHL season with 37 goals and 82 points and is one of the most popular Kings by virtue of his hard-hitting, feisty style. The contract is for two years and an option. It has not yet been signed but agreed to in principle. Granato was scheduled to make $775,000 this season, which would have been his option year, and will be in line for a significant salary increase.
Instead of gambling and playing out his option, Granato arrived at camp and continued to negotiate with the Kings. He was relieved to complete the deal before the start of the season next week.
“I’m very happy,” said Granato, who did not play against the Sharks. “This means I’ll be in L.A. for three more years.”
These days, Granato is not the only King who has been involved in contract negotiations. Don Meehan, the Toronto-based agent for defenseman Darryl Sydor, was at the Forum on Wednesday and has been talking with General Manager Nick Beverley.
“I wouldn’t say we’re close (to a deal),” Meehan said. “I’d say Nick and I are at the preliminary stage and we’ve established parameters.”
Robert Lang, Wayne Gretzky, Alexei Zhitnik and Shawn McEachern scored for the Kings before 12,508. . . . King players Brian Chapman, Marc Potvin and Warren Rychel were assessed game misconducts as were Sharks Jayson More and Mike Sullivan. In the first period alone, 21 penalties were handed out for a total of 89 minutes. King goaltender Robb Stauber, making his second exhibition start, faced 22 shots.
Coach Barry Melrose and General Manager Nick Beverley have indicated the club might start the season with three goaltenders--Kelly Hrudey, Stauber and Rick Knickle, who has had two outstanding performances. With one exhibition remaining, five defensemen are fighting for three spots--Tim Watters, Mark Hardy, Chapman, Bob Jay and Dominic Lavoie.
Left wing Luc Robitaille, who suffered a strained lower back two weeks ago, has resumed skating and might play in the Kings’ final exhibition game Saturday at the Forum against the New York Islanders. Defenseman Brent Thompson also has resumed skating, recovering from his off-season abdominal surgery.