Manny Legace was to arrive home in Long Beach in the wee hours today, and he knew what to expect from wife Karen.
"She's going to punish me," he said Wednesday night in East Rutherford, N.J. "She's going to kill me. She's going to say, 'Here's the kids. I'm leaving for a while.' My wife's pulling her hair out."
The couple had moved into their Long Beach apartment with children Sabrina, 3, and Manny III, 10 months, and were still unpacking when Legace headed for Manitoba on a trip with the Long Beach Ice Dogs.
He was derailed on that trip and joined the Kings in Sunrise, Fla., where he made his goaltending debut, replacing injured Stephane Fiset and Jamie Storr. Legace has played in all five games since and faces an extended stay with the Kings because Fiset was injured again Wednesday night.
His planned brief trip ended up lasting two weeks, and his black suit has been worn every day.
"It's ready to go to the cleaners," he said. "It can probably walk there by itself."
Legace figures a bit of fortune smiled on him in the second period, when the Devils were on the power play. Legace's catching glove was knocked off during a scrum in front of the net, and he faced New Jersey's shooters barehanded.
"I got a big-time break," he said. "I was thinking, 'Please don't shoot, because I'll break my hand.' That's scary. Those guys shoot the puck too hard to go after it barehanded."
The break: Bobby Holik shot, but hit the crossbar of the goal.
Fiset faces medical evaluation today, and trainer Peter Demers said he is "optimistic," but it's more like hopeful.
Fiset joins center Jozef Stumpel at the doctor's office. Stumpel, whose status has been called day-to-day since he owned up to a hip flexor injury, has not responded to treatment.
He was the Kings' top point-getting last season with 79, but had none through the season's first four games and then acknowledged he had been injured in the final exhibition, against Vancouver at Bakersfield on Oct. 4.
Coach Larry Robinson, who called his team "prima donnas" on Tuesday at Long Island, took some of that back Wednesday at New Jersey after a 4-0 win.
Some of it.
"I think prima donnas is a little hard on them," Robinson said. "I can't really, honestly say we've got prima donnas. I'm talking about guys you expect to play well and lead your club, your scorers . . . we weren't getting a solid effort from them. That's disturbing at times."