A Month of Gratitude: Kyle Clifford and Nate Thompson
We kick off our “month” of love with two players who aren’t going to light up the scoresheet, but find other ways to be integral to the team.
A season like this is tough to watch, and we all find ourselves being pretty hard on the Los Angeles Kings as they struggle to right the ship. For the rest of November, we’ll be taking some time each day to share why we’re thankful for each player on the team (and some Kings of years past). If you’d like to share your love for a Kings player, past or present, check out our call for submissions.
What better way to kick off a month of nice, happy things than by starting with one of the players who’s the heart and soul of the Kings?
No, not Dustin Brown…
Dustin Brown is often thought of as the heartbeat of the Kings, and that’s certainly not an incorrect statement. But Clifford, who’s found his role reduced over the years to the point where now, he is often the extra forward, is as much an integral part of the heart and soul of the Kings.
JFTC reader Frank told us that he is thankful for Clifford for “standing up for his team”, and Clifford’s not one to hesitate to land a big hit or throw off his gloves to defend himself or a teammate.
Clifford’s career high in points is 15, a mark he set over 80 games in the 2014-15 season. And while he’s unlikely to eclipse that (prove me wrong, Kyle!) he’s still a two-time Stanley Cup champion who plays with heart, physicality, and yes, sometimes some flashes of some sweet hands.
Of course, Clifford isn’t the only staple on the team’s fourth line. There’s also…
Thompson was acquired last season in the trade that sent Marian Gaborik and Nick Shore to Ottawa, coming to the Kings alongside Dion Phaneuf. While Phaneuf was the centerpiece of that trade, Thompson quickly carved out a role for himself on the fourth line.
Thompson isn’t a big points producer, but he’s a reliable figure on the penalty kill and on faceoffs, winning 50.9% of his draws so far this season.
Some of what fans are most thankful for about Thompson occur off the ice, however.
Thompson’s conversion to Judiasm, and his willingness to speak about what that means to him, was remarked on by several readers, especially those who self-identified as Jewish. Thompson shared his sympathy to the Tree of Life synagogue and Pittsburgh community in the wake of the tragic shooting there.
Thompson has also been outspoken about his journey to living a sober life. Having more role models who can say that their life is better without substance abuse is always a good thing.
On a lighter note, Thompson makes a real good Old Harry Potter: