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Armstrong OK with role play

Times Staff Writer

The Kings’ Derek Armstrong is all about being a team player.

After fighting to find his spot in the NHL with the New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers from 1993 to 2001, Armstrong developed into a consistent contributor for the Kings over the last four seasons.

Last season, in fact, was his most productive -- 11 goals, 44 points and +13 plus/minus rating -- but Armstrong said he understands his status may change again with the addition of forwards Ladislav Nagy, Michal Handzus and Kyle Calder.

“Whatever role they want to put me in,” said Armstrong, selected by the Islanders in the sixth round of the 1992 draft.

“I am here to help the team win games. I know that we have a lot of great young scorers out there and we added some more talented players. . . . If I have to take a step back or step forward, it doesn’t bother me one bit.”

Armstrong, who played in a career-high 67 games last season, said the Kings gained valuable experience last season when they were plagued by injuries, but things are different now.

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“Last year, we all had a chance to do everything, play offense and defense,” he said. “This season, it’s important that you accept your role. You may have played 20 minutes a game last year and could be cut to 10 this year.”

The Kings will play the Ducks two times over the next three days, starting tonight at Anaheim. Coach Marc Crawford said because of the Kings’ short preseason schedule, playing time will be a premium before the team opens the regular season against the Ducks in London.

“The young players understand that this is not going to be like a normal training camp where you had eight or nine games spread out over three weeks,” he said.

On Saturday, individual tickets for regular-season home games go on sale at the Staples Center box office at 9 a.m. and the Kings will hold an open practice in the arena at 10 a.m.--

lonnie.white@latimes.com


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