Two Real Ice Breakers

Times Staff Writer

Jeremy Roenick, the newest King, did his best to be an anonymous team player. His personality, and vocal cords, just wouldn’t allow that to happen.

Roenick, a marquee center acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, was handed a King jersey during his coming-out news conference, with his number and name facing the cameras. He reacted quickly, saying, “Turn it around, turn it around, show the other side,” which displayed only the King logo.

That face-in-the-King-crowd persona lasted a minute. Then Roenick started to speak.

It became pretty clear where the spotlight would shine this season. Roenick, known as much for filling up reporters’ notebooks as he is for filling up nets, hit the tarmac talking.


Asked about the Mighty Ducks, Roenick said: “Does Anaheim even have a city? Are there big buildings there? I love Costa Mesa, there are big buildings there, but in Anaheim? Now, here in L.A., we have lots of big buildings. We’re a city.”

That off-the-ice personality has been matched by his on-ice presence throughout a 16-year NHL career. The Kings acquired Roenick, hoping that plenty of both remain.

His talent, for a $4.94-million contract, was a cheap pickup, costing only “future considerations” with the Kings also getting a third-round draft pick in 2006. In Roenick, the Kings have a rugged center who not only plays a good game -- he has 475 career goals -- but talks one as well.

“I don’t mind it, because he backs it up on the ice,” King General Manager Dave Taylor said. “He brings a lot passion, whether he’s driving to the net or hitting someone into the boards or talking about the game. He speaks from the heart, and it’s very, very colorful.”

That leadership, Taylor said, and was a big reason he went after Roenick in what may be the second biggest trade in King history, behind the Wayne Gretzky deal. The numbers were right, as Roenick is in the last year of his contract, although Taylor did not rule out an extension.

The Kings hope that Roenick, 35, retains the skills that made him a nine-time All-Star. But his ability to be a lightning rod for attention seemed intact.


“Sometimes my mouth talks before my brain thinks,” Roenick said. “That’s because I am passionate about everything I do.... When I get going, when I get riled, I’m going to defend myself, defend my teammates and defend my game. No question, I have gotten in a lot of trouble because of that.”

This trouble came at a bargain. The Flyers needed to shed salary after signing Peter Forsberg on Wednesday, which put them over the $39-million cap.

Roenick became the odd man out and waived his no-trade clause, provided the Flyers sent him to the Kings or Phoenix, where he lives during the off-season.

“We talked with Philly about a minute after the Forsberg deal was done,” Taylor said. “The deal made a lot sense for us. We were able to add a first-line forward and a player who brings characteristics of a power forward that fits well with the mix of players we already have.”

Roenick’s bump-and-grind style should support the Kings’ finesse forwards, such as Luc Robitaille and Pavol Demitra, who was signed as a free agent on Tuesday, provided he stays healthy. Roenick sat out 20 games in 2003-04 because of a broken jaw and concussion, but said, “I’m an old dog, not a dead one.”

Despite the injuries, he scored 19 goals in 62 games and had a solid run in the playoffs. He was ready to pick up where he left off.


“The quest to get Luc 30 goals this year is going to weigh heavily on my mind,” Roenick said, “because that’s what he told me I have to do if I came here.”

Roenick may have another player or two to feed.

Even in acquiring Roenick’s contract, the Kings have committed only $30 million to players for this season.

Taylor said the team would try to sign two more players, a forward and a defenseman. He said he talked with Ziggy Palffy’s agent Thursday morning.

But Roenick, Robitaille said, is the centerpiece to the Kings’ immediate future.

“We were a team that was trying to make the playoffs, now we’re a team that wants to win the playoffs, and that’s a big, big difference,” Robitaille said.

“That’s what Jeremy is about. This guy is a playoff performer. He’s a big-game performer. He’s a big mouth too. He’s got it all.”




* Kings acquire 35-year-old, 6-1, 196-pound center from Philadelphia Flyers.

* Played in nine NHL All-Star games.

* Scored more than 100 points three consecutive seasons (1991-92 to 1993-94).

* Scored 50 or more goals twice and 40 or more two more times.



Point man

In 16 NHL seasons, Jeremy Roenick averaged 29.7 goals a game and 70 points a season for three teams, and had three consecutive 100-point seasons (1991-92 through 1993-94).


*--* Team Seasons Goal Pts Chicago 8 (1989-1996) 33.4 74.5 Phoenix 5 (1996-2001) 28.2 70.2 Philadelphia 3 (2001-2004) 22.3 57.7 CAREER 16 (1989-2004) 29.7 70.0 Note: Roenick played 20 games in 1988-89 season and 33 games in 1994-95. Minus those seasons, he averaged 41.3 goals and 93.8 points with Chicago.


*--* ROENICK’S CAREER STATISTICS Year Tm GP G A Pts +/- 1988-89 Chi 20 9 9 18 4 1989-90 Chi 78 26 40 66 2 1990-91 Chi 79 41 53 94 38 1991-92 Chi 80 53 50 103 23 1992-93 Chi 84 50 57 107 15 1993-94 Chi 84 46 61 107 21 1994-95 Chi 33 10 24 34 5 1995-96 Chi 66 32 35 67 9 1996-97 Pho 72 29 40 69 -7 1997-98 Pho 79 24 32 56 5 1998-99 Pho 78 24 48 72 7 1999-00 Pho 75 34 44 78 11 2000-01 Pho 80 30 46 76 -1 2001-02 Phi 75 21 46 67 32 2002-03 Phi 79 27 32 59 20 2003-04 Phi 62 19 28 47 1 GP G A Pts +/- CAREER 1,124 475 645 1,120 185