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No Lack of Fan Backing

Times Staff Writer

Injuries have taken key players out of the lineup and inconsistent play has taken the Kings out of the playoff race, but one constant remains: Fan support.

For the first time in club history, the Kings will draw more than 700,000 to their 41 home dates, an average of more than 17,500, about 800 more per game than last season, when they averaged a franchise-record 16,756.

“I think we play hard and people have identified with that,” Coach Andy Murray said. “We don’t quit. We may not be good at times, but we don’t quit.”

The Kings already have 23 sellouts, a franchise high in the team’s four seasons at Staples Center, and they are expected to sell out at least two of their last three home games. One fan, however, believes that customer loyalty has its price.

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“King fans are pretty die-hard, and therein lies one of the big problems,” said Justin Shrenger of Los Angeles, a season ticket-holder. “These people are hard core. They come in their jerseys, night after night.

“It’s completely dissimilar to other sporting events in Los Angeles ... and it has made [King management] complacent. If they’re going to sell out with a mediocre product, what incentive is there for them to try harder?”

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Defenseman Maxim Kuznetsov who appeared in three games after being traded from the Detroit Red Wings, won’t play again this season because of a broken foot suffered when he blocked a shot in practice.

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TONIGHT

vs. Columbus, 7:30,

Fox Sports Net

Site -- Staples Center.

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Radio -- KSPN (710).

Records -- Kings 30-34-6-5, Blue Jackets 26-39-7-3.

Record vs. Blue Jackets -- 0-3.

Update -- With a loss or tie, the Kings will be mathematically eliminated from the Western Conference playoff chase.

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Tickets -- (888) 546-4752.


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