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When Deadmarsh Is Out, It’s Royal Pain for Kings

This relationship between Adam Deadmarsh and the Kings could really work.

He already scored one of the most important goals in King history--certainly of recent times--when he finished off Detroit in the playoffs last May.

He is tied for the team’s scoring lead this season, averaging about a point per game.

King Coach Andy Murray loves Deadmarsh’s style. He calls his game a “what-you-see-is-what-you-get-type game.”

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The problem is, lately, Deadmarsh has been a now-you-see-him, now-you-don’t player.

He has missed about a fourth of the young season, including the past four games, with injuries. Last season he played in only 57 games with Colorado and the Kings, when the medical chart read: bruised hand, concussion, swollen eye, hurt knee. It sounds like a list of old battle sites.

It began in the pre-season this time, and he had to miss opening night because of a groin injury. He also has suffered a broken hand and he’s missed the past four games because of an abdominal strain.

“Sometimes I find myself in positions where I’m getting hurt a lot,” Deadmarsh said. “I don’t know why it is. It just happens to be in this last year or so. I never really got hurt much before that.”

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He played in at least 71 games in four of his first five seasons (and 66 in the other).

But if there’s a season to avoid injuries, this is it. Deadmarsh is up for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. He was invited to the team’s orientation camp last summer, but he was not one of the 15 players already named to the team.

He said if one of the eight remaining roster spots is given to him he won’t turn it down to keep his body fresh for the NHL season.

“Absolutely not,” said Deadmarsh, who was on the U.S. team in Nagano in 1998. “If I was picked to play, I’d be there. It’s such an honor to play in the Olympics. If I was given the chance, I’d definitely take it.”

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That’s a different take than his former teammate in Colorado, goaltender Patrick Roy. He recently said he would not play for Team Canada because he wants to focus on the Avalanche’s season. That caused a small furor among Canadian columnists, who called Roy selfish and speculated that he didn’t want to play because team officials wouldn’t hand him the No. 1 goalie spot.

“I don’t know what his reasoning was,” said Deadmarsh. “Because he wanted to rest up? I know Patty. He’s an honest guy. He says it how he feels; if that’s what he says, then that’s what he believes. You have to respect his decision. He’s been in the league a long time. If that’s the way he feels, that’s the way it is.”

Deadmarsh was born in Canada and has dual citizenship; his father is Canadian, his mother is American. But he has played for American teams in international competition since he was 16 and the United States asked him to play in the World Juniors competition.

Murray gave Deadmarsh what he considers the highest compliment when he said: “He’ll be playing for the U.S., but he’s a true Canadian.”

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That means Deadmarsh plays hockey the right way, the hard way.

“He’s a heart-and-soul type player,” Murray said.

Deadmarsh isn’t about to change. He charges right through the middle with defenders clinging to him and hangs tough around the net. He isn’t afraid to take the punishment.

“He would have been a great fullback in football,” Murray said. “Because he’d rather run through you than run around you. That’s why he does get injured a bit. But I don’t think he knows how to play the game another way. He probably wouldn’t be effective if he tried to.”

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Deadmarsh doesn’t think his style leads to injuries. He thinks, if anything, his ailments have been flukes. He injured his stomach while fighting Detroit’s Darren McCarty. He broke his hand while sitting on the bench against Chicago on Nov. 1. (His glove was off and he was sipping from a water bottle when a puck deflected off a stick and hit him).

“I think it’s just been a lot of bad luck, to be honest,” Deadmarsh said. “It hasn’t been a lot of major injuries, knock on wood. Hopefully I can just get healthier and stay in the lineup.”

He went through a full-contact practice Wednesday, and he hopes to play against Edmonton tonight.

When he’s been on the ice he has produced eight goals and eight assists in 17 games, a point production rate that would rank around the league’s top 20 if he played more games.

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For now, it’s just a hint of what he can bring to this team. He doesn’t like to think of it this way, but he’ll always be linked to Rob Blake.

Deadmarsh and Aaron Miller came to L.A. in February when the Kings traded Blake to Colorado rather than let him leave them empty-handed as a free agent.

If Deadmarsh can keep producing, it can at least make Blake’s absence a little more tolerable for King fans.

Meanwhile, Deadmarsh is getting more comfortable in L.A. Last season was trying because he had to leave his wife and twin baby girls in Colorado. He bounced back and forth, trying to spend as many free moments with his family as possible.

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“That was obviously a tough time in our lives for our family,” Deadmarsh said. “It’s behind us now. We’re together. They’re all here, we’re all settled, having a great time.

‘I love L.A. I’ve had a great time here. I love the weather, I love our fans, I love the setup we have as a team.”

He feels at home, but every time the Kings play without him it’s like the line from the vacation postcards: wish you were here.

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J.A. Adande can be reached at: j.a.adande@latimes.com.


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