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Rookie Goalie Has No Time to Be Nervous : Kings: Stauber has broken finger. Hrudey has sore knee. Storr, 19, is ready to play.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

At least King rookie goaltender Jamie Storr will have had 24 hours’ notice before making his NHL debut tonight against Dallas at the Forum.

He nearly made that first appearance on Sunday with no warning. Storr went from sitting in the stands in street clothes at the Forum to throwing on his equipment in less than 10 minutes to almost playing the third period of a tie game.

This was because King goaltenders were getting injured at a rate of one per period against Edmonton. Starter Robb Stauber hurt his right ring finger in the first period and it turned out the tip was broken. Kelly Hrudey came on in relief, then appeared to need relief himself when he took a shot square on his kneecap in the second period.

Luckily, King Coach Barry Melrose had dispatched a search party for Storr, the 19-year-old rookie who was hunted down in the press lounge after the first period.

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“I thought I better do it, just in case,” Melrose said Monday. “You would put a player in (if Hrudey came out). That’s happened before in the AHL.”

So King fans might have seen defenseman Charlie Huddy make his goaltending debut. It was mentioned that Huddy played goal in practice during the lockout.

“That would have been enough,” Melrose said, laughing.

“That’s definitely a rarity. (Ed) Belfour plays 80 games for Chicago, and we have two guys go down in one game. . . . Kelly definitely doesn’t like to ever come out. A lesser goalie wouldn’t have played the rest of the game.”

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Now Storr will be making his NHL debut under less chaotic circumstances. Stauber is week to week, and Hrudey is day to day. His knee is still sore, and he was limping Sunday night and said he can’t climb stairs. Melrose plans to recall goaltender No. 4, Pauli Jaks, from the Kings’ minor league affiliate in Phoenix to back up Storr.

King management has anointed Storr as goalie of the future since drafting him seventh overall in June. He has guided Team Canada to consecutive World Junior championships.

“It’s sad (the debut) has to come under these conditions, where both boys got hurt in the same game,” said Storr, who has been living with Wayne Gretzky and his family. “But I’ve been working hard in practice, and now I’ve got my chance in only the third game. So I’m going to run with it. Any time you get a chance, you’ve got to make the best of it.”

Said Melrose, “Careers are made like this. He’s been looking great in practice and he’s going to do well. Isn’t it fun when your problems are solved?”

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Sunday, Storr thought he was going to play the last period and it was announced to the crowd. But King trainers worked on Hrudey’s knee.

And even through the pain, Hrudey was keenly aware of Storr’s situation.

“His first game tied, 2-2, in the third period,” Hrudey said. “It would have been a tough position to put him in. If it had been anybody else, I would have had no choice (but to come out).”

As for tonight, Storr said he wouldn’t be especially nervous before the game.

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“I don’t worry about it until it comes,” he said. “I’ll go over it in my head, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over playing. It’s hockey out there. . . . I’ll probably be nervous. It’ll take the first couple of shots or the national anthem to get over it.”


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