Armstrong finds his niche in L.A.

Times Staff Writer

The Kings’ Derek Armstrong is talking -- he’s always talking -- but this time it’s about faith, determination and fun.

Armstrong was a little-known commodity when the Kings acquired him from the New York Rangers for a sixth-round draft choice.

It seemed just another stop on an already 10-year journey to make it in the NHL.

Five years later, Armstrong sits comfortably in the Kings’ dressing room, an established NHL center and team leader.


“People have asked me if I ever thought about giving up,” said Armstrong, 33. “I never did. I looked on hockey as my job. It was how I was going to pay my bills and feed my family. What better job could you have than to come to the rink and play hockey?”

Armstrong has given back. Part of his off-ice time is spent working as the team’s spokesman for the national adoption program Wednesday’s Child, as well as helping L.A. Children’s Hospital and the Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty, among other organizations. He is one of 30 nominees for the Masterton Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

Armstrong, who has 10 goals and 42 points this season, spent a decade moving among three NHL teams and a one-season stint in Switzerland before finding a home with the Kings.

“He has climbed his way up the ladder since he came here,” teammate Michael Cammalleri said. “He did that by competing every night. He’s the type of guy you like to be around.”

It does come at a price.

“I think I have heard every one of his stories 40 or 50 times,” Cammalleri said, smiling. “When he was nine, he scored nine goals in one game for his team, got traded to the other team during the game and scored 10 more goals in a 10-9 victory. I think I have heard that one every week for five years.”

Still, that enthusiasm gets channeled in the proper way.

“He does do a lot of talking,” Coach Marc Crawford said. “It will get quiet and he’s starts chirping away, in a positive way. It gets guys going.”



Former Kings’ captain defenseman Mattias Norstrom returns to Staples Center for the first time since being dealt to Dallas on Feb. 27, when the Kings play the Stars tonight.


vs. Dallas, 7:30, FSNW

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 1150.

Records -- Kings 25-34-14, Stars 43-24-5.

Record vs. Stars -- 0-5-2.

Update -- The Kings’ Anze Kopitar, out 11 games because of a back injury, went through a full practice with the team Tuesday and could be ready to play by the end of the week, Crawford said.

Tickets -- (888) 546-4752.