Frozen Royalty: Kings Looking For Kevin Westgarth To Be An Upgrade As Enforcer
Gann Matsuda continues his coverage from camp with an article on new enforcer and future fan favorite Kevin Westgarth. He’s already broken Kojci’s jaw, what else is he going to do?
EL SEGUNDO, CA — The Los Angeles Kings rid themselves of the sloth-like skating and one-bad-penalty-after-another performances by left wing enforcer Raitis Ivanans when they passed on signing him to a new contract this past summer.
That left the enforcer spot open, and it is all but a foregone conclusion that 6-4, 228-pound right wing Kevin Westgarth will be promoted from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League, the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate.
Indeed, for all intents and purposes, the native of Amherstburg, Ontario has locked down a spot on the Kings’ 2010-11 opening night roster.
“He’s a heavyweight,” said head coach Terry Murray. “He showed that in the [pre-season] game that he played in Colorado. I believe we need that kind of a player. He’s paid his price and his dues down in the minors, so he’s one of the players who will fill that spot as a fourth line player.”
Murray was likely referring to Westgarth’s fight with Colorado Avalanche heavyweight enforcer David Koci during a pre-season game in Denver on September 22.
Westgarth not only won the fight with Koci, who is considered to be one of the top enforcers in the National Hockey League, but, based on various reports, it is believed that Westgarth broke Koci’s jaw.
“It’s just one of those things,” said Westgarth. “You never wish for anybody to get hurt, but it’s part of the job, too. Anything that helps keep our team safe and kind of scares away anybody who is going to take a run at our guys, it’s definitely helpful. So if they want it, they know they’ve got it.”
Although Westgarth is known primarily for his pugilistic abilities, in today’s NHL, an enforcer must have some skill and ability to skate.
Enter Westgarth, who will never be a sniper or win a fastest skater competition. But off-season workouts should go a long way towards him not being the hindrance that Ivanans was.
Like most heavyweights, Westgarth’s biggest challenge was his skating.
“For me, it’s been about skating because that lets you get to the right spots, it lets you get on the defensemen and allows me to bring more of that physical game that I look forward to bringing,” said Westgarth. “It allows me to be more of a presence out there when that defenseman has to have his head up before he makes a play.”
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