By Surly Jacob.
Those of us irrationally obsessed with the Los Angeles Kings often track prospects, usually building images in our minds that are typically far beyond who a player is likely to become. We know it. It can get a little out of hand. We do it anyway.
But once in a while, a prospect comes along that makes our mouths water. This year, Kyle Clifford is that prospect and waiting for him to arrive on the Kings is going to be a tough pill to swallow.
Just look at him. He doesn’t even know you, but you can tell he doesn’t like you.
Clifford was sent back to his junior team, the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, on September 24, only two days after signing his entry level, 3 year contract with the Kings. In 4 preseason games, Clifford had 5 shots on net and no points, playing mostly with 5th overall pick Brayden Schenn and at times, Kings’ Captain Dustin Brown.
The more important, and exciting, stat for Clifford was his PIM. He had 13 in his 4 games with the Kings, and has 16 in 6 games with the Colts. The majority of those penalties come from fights. What makes waiting for Clifford tougher than falling asleep the night before going to Disney Land as a kid, is the way he throws a punch.
Boy, do we love punching, and luckily for us, so does he.
Clifford picked up his strong training camp where he left off with 2 fights so far with the Colts. He had one fight during the NHL preseason, and 4 fights during the 2 game rookie tournament with Phoenix. The thing about Clifford, aside from the evil smirk he wears on the ice at all times, is his strength. There are many fighters in hockey, but few possess Clifford’s ability to physically dominate any and all competition. The man is a beast.
Clifford spent his training camp unleashing more than just hammer-like punches. Kyle also knows how to throw a hit. He truly enjoys, as much as one can without being deemed a criminal, inflicting pain and worming his way under the skin of his foes.
Last month at rookie camp, Clifford was asked about his style of play, “That’s being physical, taking pucks to the net and going to the net hard. Kind of agitating out there, being a little bit of a prick on the ice.”
He’s a prick alright. Just watch the interview (linked here). See his eyes? There’s something about the camera man he does not like, and he can’t stop thinking about beating that guy to death with his own lens.
OK, perhaps I’m exaggerating, but there are no doubts as to his attitude. If you were not already excited about Clifford before today, then it is only because he have not seen him yet.
I put together this video for you. This is the wake of Clifford’s destructive path over the last month. Unforunately there is not much watchable footage to choose from, but there are 5 different fights in here. My apologies if it makes your head spin; I cut it from the perspective of his victims.
This kid is a fireball of rage on the ice. However what made him worth using a high second round pick on him is that he appears to know how to play hockey as well. At just 18, he seems primed to become an NHL caliber player, even if only a 4th liner. We hope he will be more.
So we look forward to the day when Kyle Clifford will be slamming his iron fists against NHL faces. I’m not typically a patient man, but for ‘Cliff’, I’ll wait.
Categories: L.A. Kings News