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Kings' Rob Scuderi returns to site of pleasant memories

Defenseman earned a Stanley Cup championship ring with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who will play host to the Kings on Thursday night.

February 09, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Rob Scuderi raises the Stanley Cup following the Pittsburgh Penguins' victory over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup finals.
Rob Scuderi raises the Stanley Cup following the Pittsburgh Penguins'… (Paul Sancya / Associated…)

Rob Scuderi keeps his NHL championship ring, the one he won with the Pittsburgh Penguins two years ago, in the vault of a Boston bank.

"That's about as close as it will get to my finger," the Kings defenseman said. "It's something nice that you have but certainly not something I keep around the house."

The memories of that Stanley Cup final, however, are never far from his thoughts. So when Scuderi returns to Pittsburgh on Thursday for the first time since the 2009 playoffs, it figures to be an emotional time.

"I still have plenty of friends there. A lot of good people I've met," he said. "It should be interesting."

In that dramatic Stanley Cup final against the Detroit Red Wings, the Penguins rallied to win the last two games with Scuderi assisting on the first goal in Game 6 and the game winner in the decisive seventh game.

"Really, the best feeling is right after the buzzer goes off," he said. "That's it. Right when the buzzer sounds and when you know you've won."

Three weeks after that moment, Scuderi was gone, signing a free-agent deal with the Kings. And a couple of other stars from that championship team won't be in Penguins uniforms Thursday either — Sidney Crosby is out indefinitely because of a concussion and Evgeni Malkin will have surgery Thursday for torn ligaments in his right knee.

Chris Kunitz, second on the team with 18 goals, also may be out after sitting out the Penguins' last game because of a lower-body problem.

"It's pretty obvious they lose a certain offensive dynamic with those two not in the lineup," Scuderi said of Crosby and Malkin. "But at the same time, I think they're one of the best defensive teams in the league right now."

Facing a team that's without three huge offensive pieces could lead to complacency on the Kings' bench, Coach Terry Murray warned. And that's something his team, in the thick of a playoff chase, can't afford.

"You have to make sure that, emotionally, you're going in with the right attitude and not backing off the gas pedal," he said. "These are very important games and we have to come out and play the same game as hard, as intense and focused as if they have a full and healthy lineup."

Scuderi will be trying to deal with the present without forgetting the past. He has seen the Stanley Cup once since leaving Pittsburgh, he said, and he couldn't help but look for his name, inscribed on the trophy with all the other champions.

"It looked nice," he said. "Spelled it right and everything.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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