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Chance for a Local Kid to Make Good

KING REPORT

December 16, 2003|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

Noah Clarke will make history tonight when he becomes the first Southern California-born player to play for the Kings, who play host to Edmonton at Staples Center.

Clarke, 24, a La Verne native who played at Colorado College, was recalled Monday from Manchester of the American Hockey League, and Coach Andy Murray plans to have him make his NHL debut tonight.

"We didn't bring him up to sit, he's going to play," Murray said of Clarke, who had nine goals and 23 points in 27 games with the Monarchs. "He has a good shot. We hope to see speed, tenacity and offensive flair. This will be a big game for him."

Tonight's game will be more than your average dream-come-true story.

Clarke's family owned season tickets to the Kings for years, and he made numerous trips with his father to root for Dave Taylor, Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille at the Forum.

"Growing up in Southern California, you obviously followed the Kings," said Clarke, selected in the ninth round in the 1999 draft. "I got a little taste of it during training camp and exhibition games, but to get a call for a regular-season game is pretty special. I called my parents right away, and they were really thrilled."

Clarke may be getting his chance because of injuries, but that doesn't mean Murray will ease him into the lineup. Clarke skated in practice with the Kings' top line, which features Ziggy Palffy and Jozef Stumpel.

After Monday's practice, Clarke did his best to keep his composure.

"The ticket [situation] will be a day process," said Clarke, who will wear No. 39. ""I know I'll have to buy a couple, but it's worth it. To have friends and family see me play in my first NHL game is special to me."

*

The Kings had a familiar face playing an unfamiliar position for portions of Monday's workout when Jason Allison jumped in for several drills as a defenseman.

Allison, who has been sidelined since January because of whiplash, said he's feeling better, and Murray is opportunistic about the center's return.

"He's been able to skate off and on with the team," Murray said. "I expect him to be ready to play in two or three weeks."

*

The Kings put veteran defenseman Aaron Miller on the injured list because of a cervical strain. Miller, 33, sat out the previous two games after suffering the injury against Atlanta on Dec. 10 and is on the injured list retroactive to Dec. 11.

The Kings recalled defenseman Tim Gleason from Manchester and assigned center Jerred Smithson to the Monarchs.

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