Kings' Win Helps Solve Entry Draft Question

TIMES STAFF WRITER

So, what's left for a King fan in the dog days of April?

Watching a hockey game at the Forum is almost like being an Angel fan at Anaheim Stadium in September or a Ram fan in December. It seems like a game, sounds like a game, but really, who cares?

For the Kings, there was really only one suspenseful question on Wednesday: Would they get the sixth or seventh pick in June's entry draft at Hartford, Conn. The issue was decided with a 6-4 victory over the Calgary Flames at the Forum before 14,444 as right wing John Druce picked up the second hat trick of his career and added an assist. It was the Kings' third consecutive non-sellout after recording 16 straight sellouts.

With a loss, the Kings could have played for last place in the Pacific Division in tonight's season finale against Edmonton. Last place means the sixth selection in the draft and second-to-last means the seventh. There is talk the Oilers are thinking about picking Brett Lindros, Eric's younger brother.

A Lindros would probably be welcomed in silver and black.

But the Kings put it away with two third-period goals. Druce finished off the hat trick with a shorthanded empty-netter with seven-tenths of a second remaining. They were Druce's 12th, 13th and 14th goals of the season.

"It feels great," Druce said. "A hat trick is hard, especially for me."

Meanwhile, the Oilers tied the Sharks, 2-2, in San Jose on Wednesday night.

The Kings (27-45-11) have 65 points, and the Oilers (25-45-13) have 63. But even with a victory tonight, Edmonton would still finish last in the Pacific Division because the Kings have more victories, which is the first tiebreaker.

It was the first Kings' victory at home since March 19 when they beat San Jose. They had lost four consecutive games overall and seven of their last eight before Wednesday.

Scoring the other King goals were Dixon Ward (his 12th), Kevin Todd (eighth) and Luc Robitaille (43rd). Robitaille added two assists. Two Flames hit the 40-goal mark on Wednesday--center Robert Reichel and right wing Theoren Fleury.

King Notes

Phoenix Coach Rick Dudley has left the King organization to join the expansion Detroit Vipers of the International Hockey League. He will be the Vipers' general manager and coach. Dudley started the season as the Kings' director of pro scouting and replaced Tim Bothwell on Jan. 31 in Phoenix, the Kings' minor league affiliate. Under Dudley, the Roadrunners went 21-10-3 but missed the playoffs. Phoenix has missed the playoffs three consecutive seasons.

Several team awards were handed out Wednesday: outstanding defensive player (Jari Kurri), best newcomer (Robert Lang), outstanding defenseman (Rob Blake) and most valuable player (Wayne Gretzky). Los Angeles media members voted on those four awards. King players also named most inspirational player (Pat Conacher) and unsung hero (Kelly Hrudey). The club's front office gave the community service award to Dave Taylor, and Gretzky was voted most popular player by the fans. . . . There will be a brief ceremony honoring Taylor before tonight's game, the season finale. Taylor will then take the opening faceoff.

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