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HOCKEY DAILY REPORT : KINGS

Roster Cuts: Bylsma, Finn, McKenna

September 29, 1997|LONNIE WHITE

In years past, the Kings rarely had trouble making roster cuts before the start of the regular season because they lacked depth. That has not been the case this season.

On Sunday, Coach Larry Robinson made maybe the toughest player decisions he has had to make in his three-year stint with the Kings when he sent down left wing Dan Bylsma and defenseman Steven Finn to the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the International Hockey League and left wing Steve McKenna to the Fredericton Canadiens of the American Hockey League.

They became expendable with the off-season acquisition of players such as forward Sandy Moger and defenseman Garry Galley and the emergence of young players such as forwards Donald MacLean and Brad Smyth.

"We've got maybe 10-12 guys who are sure [NHL players] . . . but we have another 13-14 who are right there all in the same bunch," Robinson said. "[Making cuts] is difficult in that you want to be able to keep them because you know injuries are inevitable. It's part of playing [at the NHL level].

"You want to be able to keep them all as depth players but with the 24-man roster, it really doesn't allow you to do so."

The Kings have 25 players on their active roster, but goaltender Jamie Storr, who will be sidelined at least another week because of a groin injury, will probably be put on injured reserve before their regular season opener at Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

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Olli Jokinen, the Kings' No. 1 draft pick, will split time at center and left wing. Robinson liked the way he played near the end of the preseason when he was teamed with center Ray Ferraro and right wing Sandy Moger. . . . The Kings could begin the regular season without two players because of league suspensions. Left wing Matt Johnson--suspended indefinitely for a slashing incident against San Jose's Todd Ewen last week--may learn his fate today after an NHL hearing. Forward Roman Vopat could also be disciplined by the league for elbowing the Mighty Ducks' Jeremy Stevenson in the first period Saturday. Vopat received a major penalty for elbowing and a game misconduct.

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