EL SEGUNDO—While the Kings wait to find out what time the puck will drop Sunday for Game 5 of their Western Conference quarterfinal against the Canucks in Vancouver, there has been some clarity on the status of three injured left wings.
Kyle Clifford did not participate in Friday’s practice at Toyota Sports Center, nor did he skate on his own afterward. Clifford was injured in Game 1 when his head slammed into the glass following a hit by Vancouver winger Byron Bitz.
Clifford wobbled off the ice and hasn’t played since. Bitz was suspended for Games 2 and 3, both won by the Kings to take a 3-0 series lead, and was a healthy scratch in Game 4, won by the Canucks on Wednesday at Staples Center to push the series to a fifth game.
Clifford’s red non-contact jersey hung above his locker Friday, indicating there was a plan for him to skate at some point, but Kings coach Darryl Sutter said Clifford did not have a setback in his recovery, rather continues to follow “protocol.”
The league has become more stringent with its evaluation and management of head injuries. In March 2011, they began requiring players with potential concussions to be immediately isolated in a quiet room at the arena, where they could be evaluated by an on-site physician. Clifford missed two games late last season after taking a hard punch from Ryan Reaves of the St. Louis Blues.
Meanwhile, another left wing, Scott Parse, participated in a full practice Friday for the first time since he was sidelined in early November by a hip labrum ailment that required surgery. Parse had surgery on the other hip last season and has played in just 14 regular-season games in the last two years. He returned during the first-round playoff loss to San Jose last season but was clearly less than 100 percent.
Based on Parse’s comments and those by Sutter, he doesn’t figure to be available any time soon.
“He looks slow and he looks behind and borderline in the way,” Sutter said.
As for another injured left wing, Simon Gagne, Sutter said Thursday that he's not even sure of his whereabouts. Gagne, who has an extensive history of concussions, suffered a head injury the day after Christmas. He skated after practice in February and March, but never indicated he was close to returning. He appears to have shut it down for the season.
"I don't even know if he's in North American now," Sutter said.