This past summer, it seemed his days in Los Angeles were over. While rumours were swirling of Kyle Clifford’s departure to Montreal, Dean Lombardi and the Kings decided to hang on to the tough guy, re-signing the restricted free agent to a two-year deal. Despite a quick start to the lockout-shortened season, Kyle Clifford struggled down the stretch, which has left some fans reluctant to see the one they call The Big Red Dog back in the fold.
After signing fighter Daniel Carcillo in the off-season, it appeared as though the writing was on the wall as Clifford was all but exiting town. However, that wasn’t the case as the 22-year-old will be returning for a fourth season with the Kings.
Appearing in all 48 games last season, Clifford achieved career highs in goals (7), assists (7) and points (14) all previously accomplished during his rookie campaign of 2010-11. Of course, it is notable to mention to mention that Clifford appeared in 76 games in his maiden NHL season, 28 more than last season.
Still, hopes are high for Kyle Clifford to keep contributing by dropping the gloves and dishing out the devastating hits. Last season, Clifford recorded 155 hits, just one behind Dustin Brown who led the team in said category. Also, while he doesn’t drop the gloves as often anymore, the native of Ayr, Ontario can still get in a tussle with the best of them as he accumulated 51 penalty minutes last season.
Like Mike Richards, Clifford had more takeaways than giveaways in 2013, stealing the puck 12 times while surrendering it only eight.
Fans may not see a lot of Kyle Clifford on the ice as his average of just over 10-and-a-half minutes of ice time per contest certainly isn’t anything to gloat about. Then again, the lack of ice time isn’t a sign of disrespect but more a testament to the role that Kyle Clifford plays with the Los Angeles Kings. After all, like the old adage goes, It's quality over quantity.
It was a strange time last season with the campaign starting in January and being rushed so much that the NHL did away with the regular occurrence of training camp and preseason. But with things back to normal this season, expect more of a consistent effort from Kyle Clifford. While he can’t be expected to eclipse his career highs in the offensive categories, he can be relied upon to be a sheer physical presence who can get his team going with a fight here or there.
Whichever way you look at it, Kyle Clifford will prove to be an asset for the Los Angeles Kings in 2013-14.