Kings Sign Visnovsky to a Four-Year Contract

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

The Kings signed Lubomir Visnovsky to a four-year, $9-million contract Friday, avoiding arbitration and making a substantial time commitment to one of their top defensemen.

Visnovsky, 27, had eight goals and 21 assists in 58 games last season, and was second on the Kings in average ice time, logging a little over 24 minutes a game. He sat out 24 games last season, 17 because of a pinched nerve in his neck and shoulder area.

Visnovsky, a restricted free agent who made $850,000 last season, planned to seek arbitration after initially being given a one-year offer of $935,000, but the long-term deal effectively ended that.

“It’s a great signing for us,” King assistant general manager Kevin Gilmore said. “Lubo’s a big part of our offensive scheme. He’s one of those defensemen that works hard on both ends.”

In other news, the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ primary minor-league affiliate, signed unrestricted free-agent forward Tom Kostopoulos, who had nine goals and 13 assists in 60 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season.

Kostopoulos, 25, will play for the Monarchs if the NHL season is delayed because of an expected owners’ lockout, but he has an option to sign with the Kings when the NHL season begins.

Also, the Kings announced their eight-game exhibition schedule. They have home games Sept. 23 against Phoenix and Oct. 9 against Colorado. They play the Mighty Ducks in Las Vegas on Sept. 25 and San Jose in Bakersfield on Sept. 26. The Kings have road games Oct. 1 in Phoenix, Oct. 2 in Colorado, Oct. 6 in San Jose and Oct. 8 against the Mighty Ducks.

-- Mike Bresnahan


Free-agent center Mike Ricci signed a two-year contract with the Phoenix Coyotes worth $3.5 million and a third-year option for $2 million.... The Mighty Ducks signed forward Garrett Burnett to a one-year contract, plus a team option. Burnett had 184 penalty minutes in 39 games with the Ducks last season.


A bench warrant was issued for former UCLA linebacker Asi Faoa for failing to appear for a progress report at Los Angeles Airport Courthouse.

Faoa, who has completed his eligibility with the Bruins, played in 13 games last season.

Faoa pleaded guilty for assault on Sept. 4, 2001 from an incident at an off-campus fraternity party he was involved in as a redshirt freshman.

Todd Bertuzzi’s assault case was adjourned for two weeks after a minute-long hearing in Vancouver, Canada. Prosecutor Garth Loeppky said he hoped to get an arraignment date when the case resumes July 22.

Bertuzzi, who plays for the Vancouver Canucks, was charged with assaulting Colorado’s Steve Moore during a game on March 8.

A second La Salle University basketball player surrendered to face charges that he and a teammate raped a visiting female athlete on campus last month.

Gary Neal, 19, who surrendered to police Friday, and Michael Cleaves, 22, who turned himself in Thursday, are both accused of participating in the sexual assault.


Seventh-seeded Alexander Popp defeated top-seeded Vincent Spadea, 6-2, 6-2, in the quarterfinals of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships at Newport, R.I.

Top-ranked Roger Federer rallied to defeat Czech Radek Stepanek, 6-1, 5-7, 6-4, and win his second match of the day to reach the semifinals of the Swiss Open at Gstaad.

Earlier, Federer defeated Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (4).

French Open champion Gaston Gaudio beat Rafael Nadal, 6-2, 6-3, to advance to the semifinals of the Swedish Open at Bastad.

Motor Racing

Jeff Gordon won his fourth straight pole on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit, setting the track record at the Tropicana 400 with a lap of 186.942 mph at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.

Gordon is the first driver to win four straight poles since Bill Elliott in 1985.

Bobby Hamilton Jr. set a Busch track record with a lap at 183.611 mph to earn the pole for today’s Tropicana Twister 300 at Joliet, Ill.

Paul Tracy took the provisional pole position for the Toronto Molson Indy, turning in a fast lap of 59.407 seconds (106.351 mph) around the 1.775-mile street course.

Rain washed out qualifying for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Built Ford Tough 225 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Points leader Dennis Setzer will be on the pole.


Ben Olson, a high school All-American quarterback at Thousand Oaks in 2001, has become a recruitable athlete again after spending the last 18 months on a Mormon mission. He redshirted at Brigham Young in 2002 as a freshman.

Olson returns from his mission in November, when he’s expected to decide whether to transfer. UCLA and USC are expected to be among the schools pursuing him. He would have four years of eligibility remaining.

University of Texas Coach Augie Garrido returned to the site of the College World Series in Omaha to talk about Texas’ failure to attend the runner-up awards ceremony after the Longhorns lost to Cal State Fullerton last month and again apologized for the incident.

Cynthia Barboza, national player of the year in high school girls’ volleyball, was a late addition to the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Beach Volleyball National Championships, which will be played on the north side of the Hermosa Pier today and Sunday.

Sound and Vision columnist Mike Penner is on assignment.