Kyle Clifford’s Identity Crisis

Kyle Clifford is loved for a variety of reasons not related to his offensive or defensive prowess. It is his overriding confidence, fearless and somewhat reckless fighting style and general hostility he shows for players in opposing sweaters. There isn’t much “compromise” to his game and uncompromising men are loved in life and lore.

When you break down Clifford’s game, what you see is (a) speed (b) size (c) conditioning and (d) a skill set long on potential. But we knew that when we drafted him. He is now 3 seasons into his NHL career and, as much as we still love him with the same fervor as before, we are starting to ask questions about his fit and future.

Enter identity crisis.

What is Kyle Clifford?

A top 6 forward? No.

A bottom 6 forward? Yes, but by virtue of the fact he hasn’t earned a top 6 role yet.

Does he show a special knack for a 2 way game? Not really, not yet.

Is he a goal scorer? No.

Playmaker? Er…not really.

A goon? No. He is too talented to be a goon.

What are we left with?


And here is where I will grab you by the balls (and substitute as necessary for the ladies) and tell you what I want for Kyle Clifford’s future.

If you managed to suffer through that video, I don’t have to write another word.

Kyle Clifford’s (use your best Darth Vader voice) destiny is that of an intrepid and heedless front of the net presence, where he will take punishment and dish it out, where nearly ever shot on goal that involves his line includes his ass in the opposing goalie’s face and a chance at a deflection, re-direction or rebound.

Clifford has the size (he is taller and heavier than Holmström), he has the attitude, he has the big, hairy brass and he has the very real potential to pot 20 + goals each season playing that kind of game, which not only will make him a bigger fan favorite but an indispensable part of the L.A. Kings present and future.

Kyle Clifford must do what Dustin Penner would not, what Dustin Brown occasionally does, what Mike Richards does well but is not big or strong enough to do more and what we lacked last season and in the playoffs.

For goodness sake, if a pussy Red Wing Swede with an umlaut can make a career out of camping in front of the net, you are telling me a big, bruising and skilled Ayr, Ontario boy cannot do better?

The big red dog must bring a special brand of bite to his bark.

Kyle Clifford’s identity crisis is an opportunity for his greatness.


Categories: L.A. Kings News

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40 replies

  1. Ryan smyth played the same game and that’s who I wanted to take Clifford under his wing and tutor. It just turned out that smyth turned pussy and whined his way out of LA. Clifford hasn’t had the appropriate model figure since and seems to, as you so well put it, fell into an “identity crisis”.
    I beg you now Colonel, park your ass in the paint!

    • If we are dreaming of a future for Kyle Clifförd. I say pull out all the stops and compare him to John Leclair. I don’t think anyone would be upset if he only amounted to that. He’s a power forward. A former Flyer. Multiple 50 goal scorer. It could happen. 2 years they’ll be talking about how his contract is the best deal for any player in the NHL. His raise will be to 6-7 million dollars a year, and he’ll be worth every penny. He’ll set a record for consecutive Gordie Howe hattricks. What is that record anyway? Clifförd will smash it whatever it is. Clifförds nuts have nothing to do with it. It’s a feeling I get deep in my nuts. :0 Make it happen hockey gods!!!

  2. {little thing I wrote up on my day yesterday I wanted to share with you guys. Hope you enjoy.}

    So I’ve been trying to break into coaching/scouting/managing over the past year after getting certified by USA Hockey. I’ve had a couple short stints helping with a couple clubs, but nothing concrete, and my aspirations were starting to look pretty bleak.

    I started to feel that maybe the Pasadena area, or California in general, just weren’t going to be somewhere conducive to me living out my dream of having a Hockey job. So I had a day where I sat at the computer looking at housing in North Dakota, Colorado, and even Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. I even told my friends and family my plans of moving out of state, because it seemed nothing was happening. At the same time, I shot out 20 or so Hail Mary emails to USA Hockey Directors, Junior clubs, coaches, anyone I can think of.

    One day while I was at work, I got an email back from one of the Directors of Coaches at USA Hockey, saying how much he appreciated my passion and that he would send my email over to someone that can help me. Craig Johnson. “Would that be former King, Craig Johnson?” He emailed me back one word, “yes”.

    I thought it would be pretty cool if Craig Johnson saw my email. I knew nothing was going to come of it, because the whole process was so rocky to that point, I was just really jaded on the chance of anything interesting happening. A few hours passed by, and I heard nothing back, and just kind of let it go. Then my phone rang. “Hello, is this Nick?” And for some weird reason I just knew, it was Craig Fucking Johnson.

    Now, this was not some superstar I was on the phone with. It was not one of my favorite players. Hell, I’ve yelled mean things at him through the TV countless times. But the fact that the ONE dude to reach out to me, was someone who was not only a former King, but on the Kings during the time my lifelong love for the sport and the team was born, was incredibly surreal. I couldn’t help but to tell him that I still have the VHS tapes that were originally Ninja Turtles episodes I made my mom tape over with Kings games that I can rewatch over and over. I know, who the fuck would want to watch the games those years more than once? Apparently my 7 year old self, with a sickening burgeoning Hockey obsession.

    So anyways, we talk a bit and he tells me all of the great coaches he learned from like Mike Keenan, Andy Murray, his coaches in Europe, etc. He expressed his willingness to bring me out and show me some things with the club he’s working for…the Jr. Ducks. Why God, why?

    I had visions of me walking into a building covered in Ducks logos and pictures, and just spontaneously combusting. The Forum Blue in my blood boiling. My Burger King tattoo burning on my arm.

    So I suck it up, and do my best to separate my fanaticism from my career, and keep apologizing to the Kings in my head. After all, Johnson was much more of a King than a Duck. At least, I was telling myself that.

    I get to the rink, I meet him, and once again, it was surreal. He takes me around, we talk about different things I can potentially do with the team, one of them is coach with him and Scott Neidermayer. I am a Hockey fan. I love all the legends of the game. Scott Neidermayer was one of the best ever. I would imagine the haunting image of him holding the Stanley Cup in a Ducks jersey would lose it’s vinegar after getting to know him. Or maybe it wouldn’t. I don’t know. I’ve yelled mean things at him through the TV. Really mean.

    We continue walking around the complex, and he tells me that today is the pro day that he runs where a few of the professionals are coming in to work out and skate. He names off a few guys, Lupul, Blum, Wizniewski, a few AHL guys, couple WHL kids. We walk toward a nice Benz with a guy pulling his stick out of the trunk. Shane O’Brien. Shit. I’ve yelled mean things at him through the TV too. I’m beginning to see a trend here.

    Craig who I was beginning to realize was a super cool dude, was asking all the guys “how was your weekend” when they were arriving. When he asked Shane O’Brien they just kind of chuckled given O’Brien is a party guy. He asked Craig back, “how was yours?” To which Craig responded, “much different than yours I’m sure.” Pretty good shit right there.

    So I stuck around and watched the whole practice. It was pretty surreal how it was practically just me and them in the building. Guys I recognized would trickle onto the ice. Cali kids Jon Blum and Mitch Wahl. Joffrey Lupul. James Wizniewski. Shane O’Brien. CJ Stretch (OKC Barons). Kyle Mackinnon (Providence Bruins). Ty Comrie (Tri-City Americans). Crazy, crazy experience.

    By far the coolest Hockey experience I’ve ever had. I’m looking forward to hopefully spending some more time out there, and getting some experience. At the end of the day, it’s a great opportunity. At the end of the day, I bleed Forum Blue.

    I draw the line at Brian Hayward though. Fuck him.

    • Cool. I remember him being a really quick skater. I believe he wore #23. I got one of those. It doesn’t say Johnson on it though. Good luck with the career. Sounds like a cool guy and an awesome opportunity. Even if it is for the Ducks :)

    • Awesome story, Nyck! Good luck in your adventures.

      If there’s one thing I’ll share with you regarding coaching, it’s to prepare yourself for the inevitable red tape and the ability of some parents to control parts of YOUR team. It will shock you, the audacity of some of these parents. As far as the kids, though, there’s nothing better than teaching the principles of competition and the lessons of life through sports. Good on you.

    • Nicely done. Has the stench worn off or are you on the 3rd shower? Consider using bricks instead of a sponge to scrub it off.

      Cool experience. Did you get the fucking job?

      • When I got into my car I had to yell “Fuck you Perry! Fuck you Getzlaf! Fuck you Hayward! Fuck you Selanne!” It was like when you have to fart on a date, and the second the girl leaves your sight your ass just explodes.

        I’m still waiting for a couple things to go through. I sent him my résumé today, and he gave me a couple days to come back out. I still can’t bring myself to believe I would land something so unreal. At least not yet. On the plus side, I still can’t bring myself to call it “too good to be true”. If I was getting this opportunity with the Kings organization, now THAT would be too good to be true.

    • Nyck, not trying to be mean or anything because I didn’t even read your comment, but that’s sort of the crux of the issue. It’s just way too long and it’s making the site very hard for me to navigate. I don’t want to be out of line because I’m sure you put some thought and effort into writing it, but… well fuck, who cares? That’s your problem.

      So Bobby, Jacob, please delete this comment as it violates the new world limit rule and infringes on my ability to navigate the web page.

      • Grrr, honestly, I didn’t want to write another comment, but just seeing those words on the page that I wrote in the above comment and having to think about that new world limit just pisses me off so much. Who is Obama, of all people, to decide that we’re not allowed more than ten planets per solar system? I mean it just seems so arbitrary. If there were actual concrete, scientific reasons why more than 10 per solar system would be detrimental to the atmosphere of each planet, like each had a shared atmosphere and if you had more than 10 per solar system, the atmosphere would become too thin for each planet, or something like that, then I would fine with it. Like no more than 2,000 pounds in an elevator at any time. At least that I can wrap my head around.

        But they have no such scientific reasoning for this! They just pulled it out of their ass, like “I’m the master of the universe, and I’ve decided, just for fun, that the world limit is going to be 10 per solar system, and I don’t have to have any reason why. So for all you out there in the business of designing new solar systems, make sure you stay within the limit of 10 planets, or pay the price” and I’m calling it out for what it is, total bullshit. I mean honestly, don’t we have enough regulation already? How is the economy ever going to rebound with all this red tape? Total bullshit.

        In other news, I meant “word limit.”

      • You should have read it, it was pretty interesting. It’s not a ramble fest like your posts

      • I’ve heard Meth is pretty difficult to get off of. Good luck!

      • The difference is he didn’t repeat the same premise 12 times in 10 paragraphs. And he doesn’t do it in 90 percent of his comments. Perspective is your friend.

        • Fair enough. So I AM allowed to post long comments, just not 90% of the time.

          Just so I know then, exactly what percentage of my comments are allowed to be long? If not 90%, 80%? 50%? Like I said before I’m willing to stay within the blog rules, but you have to be clear on them otherwise how am I supposed to know? There’s been such a massive change in philosophy around here recently, I just want to confirm what the new rules are exactly.

          And are you really bringing quality of writing into the criteria? I readily admit my long, complex comments, where I try to jot down all my ideas while I have time to, are not always edited to perfection right down to the bone, as that would take a lot of extra time. But that doesn’t mean I don’t put effort into keeping them as short as I can given the circumstances. I definitely try to repeat as little as possible and walk the fine line of explaining everything enough so readers will understand, but so much that the it becomes extremely redundant.

          So I’m not perfect, but I definitely don’t think I’m the worst writer commenting on your blog either, so to act like my comment was singled out and deleted for that reason, as if that differentiates me from everyone else, is disingenuous in my opinion. And I’m not picking on anyone else, I don’t have anyone else specific in mind when I say I’m not the worst writer. I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying this is an informal setting few comments are perfectly written and edited, and that while I tend to express the most ideas when I comment and start the most discussions, that doesn’t mean I’m the most redundant or repetitive commenter.

          If what you’re saying is that a comment making 10 points in it will always have more explanation in it than a comment making one point, yes, naturally, but that’s not the same thing as “repeat[ing] the same premise 12 times in 10 paragraphs.” My comments are long primarily because I bring up many points at once and discuss their relationship to each other and my ideas for solving the current problems with the team, not because of unusually poor or repetitive writing by the standards of a blog comment. Pound for pound, idea for idea, there are others who comment that write just as repetitively as me. But you didn’t delete their comments.

          Let’s just put it behind us though because I’m sick of writing about it. You might even say it’s getting repetitive!

          But really, lets just get back to writing about Kings hockey. It shouldn’t be a problem writing shorter comments the rest of the summer since I think all the “major” developments that inspired all the thoughts I wanted to share about the team that led to long comments have happened already. After you deleted my comment for no (good) reason, I wanted to express how disappointed I was that you guys, a blog I’d kind of put my trust in and where thought I would find a home at to discuss Kings hockey in part because you guys always seemed like the one place who was against that type of thing, would do that, and I have expressed that. Obviously it’s impossible to still think of S&S as the blog that wouldn’t do that now that you have, and hey I totally get it in terms of the “home to discuss Kings hockey” part that even before you singled me out and deleted my comment, no one liked me from what I could tell or understood or valued the ideas I posted anyway, so that part certainly isn’t your fault and I was probably wrong about that too. So let’s just move on and I probably won’t be posting as much anyway. Even without all that, there’s nothing really happening with the Kings now anyway.

          • Don’t deflect your ramblings on any changes around here. Has nothing to do with here and there have been no changes. The community here are long time readers and commenters and when people new land here, they stick. The verbose, nonsense you spew wouldn’t have been welcome on day 1 nor is it now.

          • Did you delete a comment, Bobby?

          • Yes, a few of his insufferable comments that made site navigation too difficult. You know the ones that were 17 paragraphs when the premise was exhaustively covered in 1

    • I call bullshit. But it sounds like a great work of fiction!

  3. Well said Scribe, I couldn’t agree more.

  4. Kyle Clifford is going to explode this season and challenge Brown for first line LW minutes. :) it could happen.

  5. What I like about Clifford’s game is he seems to have something about him, maybe some underrated hockey sense for a big guy, and a knack around the net on plays like deflections, and scoring goals from nothing at times.

    However other than deflecting pucks in mid-air, my biggest concern with Clifford is his hands. When you compare him to top 6 power forwards like Milan Lucic, or even look at Bryan Bickell recently, the type of player we want him to be, they’re big and mean, but they have very smooth hands as well.

    Clifford has a lot more in common with Trevor Lewis, unfortunately. And Lucic and especially Bickell are better skaters with more agility and explosiveness. But Clifford has pretty good top speed and the skating is bad, and he’s very strong so that helps his skating and balance in terms of being hard to knock off the puck, so if he could just develop the hands, I actually do think he could develop into a Lucic type of top 6 forward. But right now the puck just doesn’t stick to his tape. His hands aren’t horrible in the sense that he will lose the puck randomly in open ice for no reason, because they’re totally serviceable in that sense, but when it comes to making quick moves and avoiding defensemen, he may as well be Trevor Lewis.

    You bring up Holmstrom which is interesting because that basically amounts to a different option for Clifford, a different route to becoming an important player, and maybe one easier to do in the sense that he won’t have to magically develop better hands out of nowhere to become a Holmstrom like he would need to if he wants to become a Lucic.

    However, Holmstrom had underrated hands, too, also better than Clifford’s even if they weren’t as good as Lucic’s or Bickell’s. And Holmstrom was also just one of a kind. Plenty of players have a willingness to crash the net and screen the goaltender, but few have been as effective as Holmstrom. Why? He just had something about him. A sense of where to go. A great ability to deflect pucks. And he also benefitted from playing on an amazing powerplay where the other four guys could control the puck without him, basically, and he could just screen the goalie and they’d give him a bunch of opportunities to deflect pucks and knock home rebounds without him really having to create any of that themselves. The Kings unfortunately still haven’t developed an elite powerplay, which is actually one of the biggest issues with our franchise that’s still unresolved.

    So that’s where I’m at. Even if you have very good size and grit, and even underrated speed and hockey sense in Clifford’s case, it’s just hard to be a top six forward in the NHL if you don’t have hands. And Clifford’s may not be awful, they’re kind of in between, but they’re definitely not top six worthy.

  6. You guys and your love for Clifford.

    The dude has no offensive game, his defensive game is meh, but he is decent in the cycle and is physical.

    I know he is young, but I don’t get the love affair with the guy. His ceiling as far as I see it is 3rd line. He doesn’t have great hands, etc.

    Stop sucking his nuts.

    Jk, do whatever the fuck you want. He’s just not that great of a player.

    • It’s his eyes. THOSE EYES!

    • Cliffy’s game isn’t to be a 20+ scorer. He brings that hard physical presence, has no fear of driving to the net and doesn’t have an issue dropping the gloves when necessary.

      The kid’s committed to improving. I don’t see why he can’t play on the 2nd line.

  7. Hey man, umlauts kick ass!! A lot of those dudes that weilded axes and conquered and pillaged most of northern europe and Brittain in the olden times had umlauts in their names. Maybe Clifford should be Clifförd

    • Umlauts totally rock. If I could figure out how to get them on the iPhone I would Jaegerdot everything. Just for emphasis. If you put it in a guys name it’s obvious I think what it means. Brilliant.

  8. To early to give up on him, but I started to lose faith in him last year the second half of the season. He has a lot to prove this year. His tough game is his bread and butter. He has seemed to lose some of that aggressiveness that we loved. Perhaps concussions is an issue.

  9. Shit, this part of the year blows. Is there anything worse than baseball?

    Can football start, already!

    I can’t wait for the cross-town prospects game. There’s nothing better than sitting in the Honda Center wearing Kings gear! I need some action!


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