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KINGS NOTEBOOK: JUDGING BY RECEPTION, KLATT QUITE THE CATCH.

Byline: Matt McHale Staff Writer

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - In L.A., Trent Klatt is a quiet working-man's winger. Here, he is a rock star.

Klatt, who played five seasons for the Vancouver Canucks, returned Monday for the first time since he signed with the Kings last summer as an unrestricted free agent.

Klatt was mobbed by reporters after the Kings' morning workout and hounded by fans at the team bus.

``It's something to come back here,'' Klatt said. ``I was pretty overwhelmed for the first two weeks after I left. I made a lot of great friends here. I didn't think I'd ever leave.''

It was a subject of great local controversy when Klatt was offered just one guaranteed season to stay with the Canucks. The club was on the verge of contending for the Stanley Cup. Klatt had helped mentor the Sedin twins, Daniel and Fredrik, and been a solid secondary player for the league's top offensive team.

Instead, he agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Kings. His reception Monday morning was proof of how much he is missed.

``There were so many people here to see him we couldn't get through the door,'' Kings coach Andy Murray said. ``I feel good for him. He was a valuable player for them and he is for us.''

Although Klatt has a lower profile with the Kings, the team understands his importance to their first-place standing in the Pacific Division.

He has eight goals, which puts him on pace to match a career high of 24 goals set during the 1996-97 season.

But as he did with the Sedin twins, Klatt has helped the development of youngsters Alexander Frolov and Mike Cammalleri.

``I think of all the moves we made last summer, the biggest was the signing of Trent Klatt,'' Kings president Tim Leiweke said. ``The leadership he brings our team is amazing.''

--Picking it up? After scoring eight goals in 11 games, Cammalleri does not have a goal in seven games. His assist on Ziggy Palffy's second-period goal was his first point in five games.

Murray said Cammalleri needs to step up his game but added that the many line changes the Kings have employed this season have not helped the young center.

After missing the first five weeks with a knee injury, Cammalleri was placed between Klatt and Luc Robitaille. Then he worked with Martin Straka and Palffy.

``I don't blame it on any of that,'' Cammalleri said. ``There are times in the season when the puck is on your stick and you do something with it, and there are times when you have it and can't do anything with it. When that happens, you have to keep your confidence up and know it will turn around.''

--Quick whistles: Rookie right wing Dustin Brown, sidelined since spraining his right ankle Nov. 30 against Chicago, will miss an additional two to three weeks, Murray said. ... After playing two games and recording one assist, LaVerne's Noah Clarke has been a healthy scratch the past two games.

Matt McHale, (818) 713-3622

matt.mchale(at)dailynews.com
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 23, 2003
Words:517
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