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Benching Frustrates Donnelly : Kings: Coming off best season, left wing can’t understand why he hasn’t played since opener.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

For King left wing Mike Donnelly, being benched and constantly reading that he is in the doghouse have started to weigh heavily on his psyche.

Donnelly, who scored a career-high 29 goals and had 69 points last season, played poorly against Vancouver in the season opener, but so did several of his teammates.

Still, King Coach Barry Melrose benched him Saturday, attempting to send a message to Donnelly and the rest of the players in the dressing room.

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Three games have passed, all victories, and Donnelly’s frustration has grown.

“I don’t need to be sitting out,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t think it’s a way to motivate me, that’s for sure. I don’t want to make it seem like I have a bad attitude. I wasn’t satisfied that we went to the Stanley Cup. I came to training camp expecting a good year.

“This is definitely not what I wanted, what I envisioned or what I deserve.”

Said Melrose: “Obviously, I want to get Mike back in the lineup. He’s a great player. But there’s something special about a winning lineup.”

Melrose said he was not concerned that Donnelly’s confidence has been shaken by the benching.

“After sitting out three games? There’ll be no problem,” he said. “Mike will come back and play better than ever. He’ll be fine.”

That could be as early as tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. More space was made on the Kings’ roster Wednesday, when they sent defenseman Dominic Lavoie back to their minor league affiliate in Phoenix. Either Donnelly or forward Marc Potvin might play, but Melrose said twice previously that Donnelly would “probably” play and then changed his mind.

“It’s a situation that never should have developed,” Donnelly said.

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