Armstrong loves being in the NHL

Times Staff Writer

There was no punch line, no wink, no hidden meaning. For a few minutes one recent afternoon, Kings center Derek Armstrong, the team’s most colorful personality, was completely serious.

“I’m honored to play at the NHL level,” he said. “I don’t want people to take it away from me.”

At 35, with the distinction of being the second-oldest member of the Kings and tied for the longest service time, Armstrong knows the clock is ticking on his NHL career, one that didn’t get rolling until he was in his early 30s.


He’s trying to deliver a similar message to the third-youngest team in the NHL. Appreciate today because tomorrow is not guaranteed.

That point became especially poignant Monday with the death of Alexei Cherepanov, 19, a first-round pick of the New York Rangers who collapsed during a game in Russia.

“It took me a long time to make the NHL,” Armstrong said. “I just want them to really enjoy it and be honored and appreciate the job that we get to do for a living.”

After tying for the fewest points in the NHL last season, the Kings are off to a 1-2 start after beating the Ducks, 6-3, Tuesday night at Staples Center. Regardless of how this season progresses, Armstrong says he’s better prepared to deal with the organization’s growing pains.

“You’re watching kids grow,” he said. “That’s going to be our success.”


Kings defenseman Jack Johnson had surgery on his left shoulder at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Los Angeles, a team spokesman said. Johnson suffered a partially torn labrum during the Kings’ loss to San Jose on Sunday and will be sidelined until after the All-Star break.

Steve Kampfer, a fourth-round pick of the Ducks in 2007, remains hospitalized in Ann Arbor, Mich., after he was attacked by a University of Michigan football player early Sunday morning.


Kampfer, 20-year-old defenseman on Michigan’s hockey team, was thrown head first onto the sidewalk after he and a friend were confronted by a group of young men, university police said. A Ducks spokesman said that Kampfer suffered a fractured skull.

Kampfer was a teammate of the Kings’ Johnson when both played at Michigan during the 2006-07 season.

The injury to Kampfer comes two days after fellow Michigan defenseman Mark Mitera, a first-round pick of the Ducks in 2006, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during a game Friday night.



vs. Edmonton, 7, FSN Prime

Site -- Honda Center

Radio -- 830.

Records -- Ducks 0-3; Oilers 1-0.

Record vs. Oilers (2007-08) -- 2-2.

Update -- Mathieu Garon has solidified himself as the No. 1 goalie in Edmonton. He posted a 31-23-6 record in 63 games for the Kings in 2005-06 then was relegated to second string the following season when then-coach Marc Crawford took over.