Jeff Carter to make Kings debut Saturday, reunite with Richards

Jeff Carter, acquired by the Kings from Columbus on Thursday for Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round draft pick, did not participate in the Kings’ morning skate but is expected to be in the lineup when they face the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday evening at Staples Center.

A club spokesman said Carter had arrived in Los Angeles on Friday night and had to pass a physical and wait until the NHL processed all the paperwork from the trade. The spokesman said no complications were anticipated that might keep Carter from playing and that Carter would meet the media — including two Canadian TV networks — before the 5 p.m. game.

Coach Darryl Sutter had Carter penciled in to play alongside Mike Richards and Dwight King, at least to start. Sutter also said Carter will get some power-play time. Richards and Carter were occasional linemates with the Philadelphia Flyers before both were traded last summer.

Asked what instructions he will give to Carter, Sutter smiled.

“It’s not really instructions. It’s just like, ‘Go play,’” Sutter said. “Systems and all that are pretty generic.”

Richards and Justin Williams skipped the morning skate but Sutter said the session was optional and that both simply chose to stay off the ice.

Richards said he saw Carter for the first time Saturday morning and that they had kept in touch by phone and text message after they were traded by the Flyers.

“We were surprised by it. We didn’t think it was going to happen when we got traded in the summertime,” he said.  “Strange things happen in hockey, I guess. We’re excited to get the opportunity to play with each other again….

“We have a good team in L.A. He’s watched as many games of ours as I’ve watched of his. We have a good team here and we’re close to putting it all together and we’re excited to get the opportunity to play with each other and hopefully do something special.”

Richards and Carter were the targets of criticism from the acerbic Philadelphia media for supposedly partying to the extent that it affected their play, and Richards’ relationship with reporters there soured. Ryan Rishaug, a reporter for Edmonton, Canada-based TSN, asked Richards if he expected less scrutiny in Los Angeles, where hockey has a lower profile.

“We just don’t have the same reporters here so that’s probably going to change a lot of things,” Richards said. “When they make up stories that aren’t true, it’s tough.”

He said he wouldn’t discuss the extensively reported “Dry Island” incident from last season. Two anonymous Flyers were quoted as saying Richards and Carter refused to go along with Coach Peter Laviolette’s request that players give up drinking for a period of time and write their names on a board in the locker room to make their pledge known.

Other players declined to sign the board but Richards and Carter were key players — Richards was the team’s captain -- and both were traded away after the season.

“I’m not going to talk about that. It’s in the past,” Richards said. “We’re looking forward to playing with each other tonight, move forward and do some special things in L.A. here.”

Check back for more, including Willie Mitchell discussing why he agreed to a two-year extension instead of testing the free-agent market.

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