Quinton Byfield is back in the AHL. At least for a little while.
On Sunday, the Kings announced that Byfield would be assigned to the Ontario Reign. He's just returned from an illness that's kept him out for almost two weeks and needs to get back up to speed.
“He’s back [on the ice], which is a great sign,” Todd McLellan said. “He lost a lot of weight and he’s going to need to get strong again. He’s going to need some time to recover.”
McLellan was also clear that Byfield won't lose his spot in the lineup because of this illness.
“I’ve always said I don’t think anybody should lose their spot to injury or illness, it’s outside of their control,” McLellan said. “Usually you lose your spot in the lineup based on indifferent play, so we’ll see when everybody gets back. No decision has to be made right now on Quinton or Ras or anybody else in our lineup, because [Byfield] is not yet ready to play.”
An AHL stint should be good for Byfield. It will help him get back to speed, but should also build some confidence. He'll likely play top-six minutes, in a more offensive role than he's gotten at the NHL level. Gabe Vilardi is a testament to how useful time in the AHL can be, although, I doubt Byfield plays 39 games for the Reign as Vilardi did last season.
After Saturday's game against the Florida Panthers, which ended with a near-line brawl caused by Matthew Tkachuk, Kings players and coaches kept repeating a similar line. "It's out of our hands now," hinting that the league needed to look at Tkachuk poking Jonathan Quick in the mask. Their calls were heard and the league took notice.
They announced Sunday morning that Tkachuk would have a hearing with player safety, and a few hours later, Tkachuk would be suspended for two games. Several fans have voiced their displeasure about the two games suspension. Hockey is a sport famous for policing itself though, and I'm sure Brendan Lemieux will have his say when the teams face off on Jan. 27.
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