L.A. Kings: Brad Richardson and Wayne Simmonds Are Quite the Surprise

LOS ANGELES — During the Los Angeles Kings’ recent run to fourth place in both the Western Conference standings and in the overall National Hockey League standings (through games played on February 7), two role players have contributed a lot more than what has been expected of them. Instead, forwards Brad Richardson and Wayne Simmonds have surprised most by playing key roles in the Kings’ surge in the standings.

Last season, injuries and uneven play limited Richardson, 24, to just five assists in 31 games. He was unable to find his niche on the team, after being acquired by the Kings on June 21, 2008 from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a second round pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

After Richardson’s poor showing last season, expectations for the 5-11, 195-pound native of Belleville, Ontario were low, and he found himself on the Kings’ fourth line to start the 2009-10 season. Despite that, he was not going to be denied.

Indeed, he worked hard and played with grit not seen from him before, and, as a result, Richardson started to gain the trust of head coach Terry Murray starting in mid-November. His ice time started to creep up, and he moved up from the fourth line to the third line and now, Richardson is playing on the Kings top two lines, alongside Simmonds and center Anze Kopitar.

Richardson, who has scored seven goals and has added thirteen assists for twenty points in 57 games this season, has also made an impression on his general manager.

“He’s come up the old-fashioned way, kind of like [former Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs center] Doug Gilmour,” said Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi. “That’s the way guys used to break in. They used to be big scorers in junior. They all had to break in on the fourth line because they had to learn to check and play defense.”

“[Richardson is] another one,...

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