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David Van der Gulik's return to NHL comes under unusual circumstances

David Van der Gulik's return to NHL comes under unusual circumstances
David Van der Gulik tries to control a loose puck in front of Ducks goalie John Gibson during an exhibition game in September. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The phone call never gets old. Especially when it is unexpected.

David Van der Gulik joined the Kings here Thursday morning in Pittsburgh on emergency recall and the 31-year-old forward will make his Kings debut Thursday night. He took line rushes with center Andy Andreoff and Jordan Nolan at the morning skate.

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Injured Kings forwards Marian Gaborik, Anze Kopitar and Trevor Lewis are not ready to return and stayed on the ice for extra work this morning. Additionally, goalie Martin Jones is expected to make his second start of the season, meaning Jonathan Quick should face Detroit on Friday.

But Van der Gulik's arrival was a curious turn of events.

"I was really surprised, honestly, not really expecting it," Van der Gulik said. "Obviously it's a great feeling and I'm happy to be here. Wealer [Jordan Weal] was supposed to come up a couple of days ago. I assumed that he was going. Then I got a call.

"There's not really a feeling you can relate it to. It's just a good feeling. In your career you only get it a few times. Whenever it happens, you don't take it for granted."

Some background: The Kings were forced to play short a forward on Tuesday night at Philadelphia and have been attempting to bring up Weal from their minor-league affiliate in Manchester, N.H. The Kings are facing salary-cap issues and Weal's contract did not fit under the cap because of a bonus for games played.

His bonus would trigger at 40 NHL games played this season, mathematically attainable, but not realistic as far as the Kings are concerned. Van der Gulik's contract was more cap-friendly and paved the way for the emergency recall.

Van der Gulik signed with the Kings as a free agent in July and had two points in five games with Manchester this season.

He has appeared in 48 NHL games, mostly with Colorado but started his career in Calgary, overlapping some with Kings Coach Darryl Sutter when Sutter was the Flames GM. Van der Gulik's last NHL game was Jan. 10 last season with the Avalanche.

Did he ever think this day would come again?

"Honestly, at my age, definitely you kind of just go with it," Van der Gulik said. "And you don't try to think too much about it. My last game last year in Colorado. ... I got hurt. But I left there thinking, when I got sent back down, you never know if you'll get a chance again.

"So I'm happy to be back and I'll just try to make the most of my opportunity. ... I think I train harder every summer because it's harder to get back here in my situation."

Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr played with him when they were with the Flames and against him when Van der Gulik was in Colorado.

"He's a guy that provides lots of energy," Regehr said. "He's going to be a straight-line guy. He's going to hit everything and make simple plays with the puck and be a reliable forward for us."

Follow Lisa Dillman on Twitter @reallisa

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