EL SEGUNDO, CA — After watching their team lose their poise—the Los Angeles Kings were dominated throughout long stretches of a 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver on March 31—the Kings brain trust has come to the realization that their team will not last long in the Stanley Cup Playoffs without help up front.
As a result, on April 1, the Kings recalled top center prospect Brayden Schenn, under emergency conditions, from the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League, a team that is expected to go deep into the WHL playoffs and make it to the Memorial Cup finals.
Saskatoon and the Prince Albert Raiders are tied in their first round playoff series, 2-2.
“We’re going to miss Brayden terribly,” said Blades general manager and head coach Lorne Molleken. “He’s a very special player. But at the same time, we’re absolutely thrilled that he’s getting a chance to play the game at the NHL level, and help the LA Kings in their playoff run.”
“We wish Brayden nothing but success,” added Molleken. “I believe that he’s ready for the NHL right now, and that he will be a great asset for the Kings.”
Indeed, the 6-1, 190-pound native of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan is expected to give the Kings a lift up front after losing star center Anze Kopitar on March 26 with a high ankle sprain and torn ligaments.
Kopitar underwent successful surgery to repair the damage on March 30, and is expected to recover in time for training camp in September.
Conventional wisdom was that the Kings could not recall Schenn due to the agreement between the Canadian Hockey League (CHL; the umbrella organization that includes all Canadian junior hockey leagues) and the National Hockey League that dictates that any player assigned by his NHL to his junior team cannot be recalled, except under emergency conditions, until after his junior team’s season has been completed.
Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi and his staff had discussions earlier this week with attorneys from Minnick, Powell, Avey, and Weber, one of the top sports law firms in North America, specializing in representing professional teams and leagues.
At first, it was thought that the only way Schenn could be recalled was under emergency conditions, which would mean three Kings forwards, not including Kopitar, would have to be injured.
But the Kings found a loophole.
“Because [rookie center Andrei] Loktionov spent enough days in the NHL, and because [right wing Scott] Parse returned to practice, but then suffered a setback, which is defined as a new injury under the Collective Bargaining Agreement—that’s two injured forwards,” said Mel Powell, a partner with Minnick, Powell, Avey, and Weber. “Kopitar and Williams are both, rather obviously, injured. This puts the Kings over the minimum requirement for emergency recalls after March 1. Therefore, Schenn can be recalled from the WHL under the existing agreement.”
Powell noted that, in this special case, the Kings are required to provide financial compensation to Saskatoon in the amount of what Schenn would be paid for the 2010-11 season at the NHL level, which counts against the NHL salary cap and could impact free agent signings in the off-season.
The Kings must also provide compensation to Saskatoon by sending a junior-eligible player from their roster, and left wing Kyle Clifford is the only player who meets that requirement.
“We’re also required to take a player who still has junior eligibility and send him to Saskatoon, so we’re losing Clifford for the rest of the season,” said Lombardi.
“That hurts, but we feel that we have players who can help fill that role,” added Lombardi. “We knew we needed a top six forward to help make up for the loss of Kopitar, and when we discovered that we could call him up, we moved immediately.”
Recalling Schenn also starts the clock on his entry-level contract with the Kings.
The recall is subject to review by NHL officials in Toronto, but they are expected to approve the deal quickly.
Schenn is scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles this afternoon, and is expected to be in the lineup when the Kings host the Dallas Stars on April 2.
The Kings are taking a huge gamble in recalling Schenn, not only because he is unproven at the NHL level, but also because they are placing an extremely heavy burden on him.
Indeed, they are expecting him to shoulder a significant part of the load to lift the team into the playoffs, and, at the very least, win their first round matchup. But with the team making considerable strides this season, the Kings believe it is worth starting the clock on his entry-level contract, as does Powell.
“The Schenn is mightier than the sword,” he said.
Hope that didn’t hurt too much, especially since this news broke on April 1.
DISCLAIMER: If you haven’t already figured it out, this is an April Fools Day gag story, a tradition I started long, long ago over on the Online Kingdom and it continues here on Frozen Royalty. Other than the status of the playoff series between the Saskatoon Blades and the Prince Albert Raiders, nothing stated above is true, and the quotes attributed to people mentioned in this story are fabricated. My apologies to Brayden Schenn, Lorne Molleken, Dean Lombardi, Andrei Loktionov, Scott Parse, Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Jim Minnick, the late Dan Avey, Pete Weber, the Saskatoon Blades, the Western Hockey League, the Los Angeles Kings, the NHL, and anyone else who may be directly or indirectly affected by this story. No malice was intended. This was nothing more than an attempt at humor on April Fools Day.
Long-time sweater-challenged Kings fan Mel Powell contributed to this story, and should be severely ridiculed for coming up with the joke, “The Schenn is mightier than the sword.”
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