With both sides (unsurprisingly) far apart on a new CBA, current players are still in the process of finding work elsewhere. For the Los Angeles Kings, they now have eight who have since signed with other clubs. Kyle Clifford is the newest name on that list but at least he won’t be going far. In fact, he is remaining within the Kings’ organization as he signed with the Ontario Reign of the ECHL.
The news first broke Tuesday via MayorsManor where it was said that Clifford would be making his Reign debut next Wednesday night.
While Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Alec Martinez and Jonathan Bernier have all gone to Europe to sign with their respective clubs, the other four Kings have remained within the organization. In addition to Clifford signing with the Reign, Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Slava Voynov have all since gone to Manchester to play with Los Angeles’ AHL affiliate.
While I've never been the biggest advocate of NHLers going elsewhere to take the jobs of others, I find the Reign have a need for grit and toughness that Clifford can address. The 21-year-old is thought of very highly by Reign assistant coach (and former Kings’ assistant) Mark Hardy who called Clifford the “MVP of Rookie Camp” during his first training camp with the Kings as an 18-year-old. Besides, getting some competitive is just what someone like Clifford needs. Aside from being such a strong, physical presence, he is at an age where growth is crucial and that can only be taken so far with skating drills and off-ice workouts.
As beneficial as the AHL is, the ECHL has long been notorious for showcasing a much more physical, even dirty, style of play. For a bruiser like Clifford, the East Coast League sounds like his cup of tea.
When Clifford does join the Reign, he will be joining, among others, Devin Setoguchi of the Minnesota Wild whom Clifford is familiar with from his days in San Jose.
And so the exodus continues but at least Kyle Clifford’s signing gives local Kings fans some more incentive to travel forty-five minutes east to catch the Reign in action.
For MayorManor’s interview with Kyle Clifford, click here:
Photo: Courtesy of Jae C. Hong/AP