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KING REPORT

Belanger to Miss Eight Weeks

January 29, 2002

DENVER — Eric Belanger, who was enjoying a productive season for the Kings, is scheduled to undergo surgery today in Los Angeles to repair ligaments in his left wrist, a procedure that is expected to sideline the second-year center for eight weeks.

Belanger, 24, had prepared for the worst since suffering the injury Jan. 15, but the word Monday that he would need surgery still came as a severe blow.

"It's really tough," he said from Los Angeles, "because I had a great season and the team was playing good and doing something right going into the playoffs. It's the last year of my contract, so at the beginning of the year I said if I could stay away from the injury, it would be good for me, but here we go again."

Belanger, who has eight goals and 14 assists in 46 games, is expected to return to the lineup around April 1, two weeks before the end of the regular season.

His absence has created an opportunity for Brad Chartrand, who has bounced between the Kings and the minors the last three seasons and has scored two goals and two assists in the six games since Belanger was injured.

"You could call it pressure," Chartrand said, "but I think it's something I kind of thrive on. The last three seasons, it's been like that for me. I've never had a chance to rest on any sort of laurels. I've got to be great when I'm up here, and I've got to play great in the minors because I want to be called back up."

Chartrand, 27, is similar to Belanger in terms of speed and tenacity.

"I'm not going to sit here and say that I'm maybe the most gifted offensive player in the world," Chartrand said, "but I think work ethic is also an attribute that a player can have, and I think I have that."

*

King defenseman Mathieu Schneider aggravated a left shoulder strain when he ran into teammate Ziggy Palffy in the morning skate, then was bumped again late in the first period Monday night and had to leave the game. He will fly home to Los Angeles today for more tests.

Jerry Crowe

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