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Blake's Return a Hit With Fans

April 01, 2001|HELENE ELLIOTT

His feet wanted to follow a familiar path when he arrived at Staples Center on Saturday, but Rob Blake instead turned toward the visitors' locker room to join his Colorado Avalanche teammates.

"It was a little different," said Blake, whose determination to become a free agent led the Kings to trade him and Steven Reinprecht to Colorado on Feb. 21 for Adam Deadmarsh, Aaron Miller, a prospect and two draft picks. "It would be a lot different if I were playing."

A sprained knee kept Blake off the ice, but he had a chance to sleep in his Manhattan Beach home and catch up with old friends. The Kings honored him by showing a selection of his biggest hits and goals on the video board above center ice, but he was in the locker room and missed it.

The video initially drew a mixed reaction, but the hits drew gasps from the crowd and a generous round of applause at the end. The video ended with the words, "Thanks for the Memories," and for Blake, it was mutual.

"That was nice. I appreciate that," he said. "We had a lot of fun here in the years we were here. . . . You remember a lot of the good times. It was fun here."

Blake, who hopes to resume skating in the next few days and return for the playoffs, said he keeps an eye on the Kings. "You always do that," he said. "They've been getting strong goaltending lately, and fighting for a playoff spot, the intensity is there every game."

Blake also said he has not talked to the Avalanche about a new contract. "Their policy has been, and I was told the day I came, is that they're going to wait until after the season," he said. "That's fine by me. The talk is more the playoffs, and not individual things."


Ziggy Palffy's first-period short-handed goal was the Kings' 14th short-handed goal of the season, tying them for second in the NHL. . . . Colorado Coach Bob Hartley said Patrick Roy, who has been bothered by a sore knee, could have started Saturday but he wanted to play David Aebischer. Colorado winger Milan Hejduk was scratched because of flu. . . . Stephane Fiset was Felix Potvin's backup, instead of Jamie Storr. . . . Twenty-six fans chosen at random will win game-worn jerseys from players after Monday's home finale. The Kings and Kings Booster Club also will announce their annual award winners.

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