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ROENICK IS THE KING OF L.A. OUTSPOKEN FORWARD IS ACQUIRED IN A TRADE.

Byline: Rich Hammond Staff Writer

EL SEGUNDO - Jeremy Roenick's hockey talents are exceeded only by his ability to create controversy with his mouth, so if nothing else, the Kings are certain to talk a good game this season.

The Kings made their boldest move in years Thursday when they acquired Roenick and a 2006 third-round draft pick from the cost-cutting Philadelphia Flyers for nothing more than ``future considerations.'' In Roenick, the Kings received a nine-time All-Star and one of the sport's most dynamic personalities.

Roenick, 35, a seven-time 30-goal scorer, is under contract only for this season, at $4.94 million. Roenick, an Arizona resident, said the Kings were his first choice when Flyers management approached him Wednesday about waiving his no-trade clause after that team signed Peter Forsberg to a large contract.

``I'm an L.A. kind of guy,'' said Roenick, who would accept a trade only to the Kings or Phoenix and said he would like to sign an extension with the Kings. ``Those who know me will understand that.''

In the first 15 minutes of his introductory news conference, Roenick mocked himself - ``I get diarrhea of the mouth quite often,'' he said - skewered the rival Mighty Ducks - ``I think we're going to kick their (butts)'' - and delivered a spot-on impersonation of Luc Robitaille, his good friend and new teammate.

Roenick's talent and sharp tongue should help the Kings generate some excitement as they attempt to create some positive publicity after the costly 10-month lockout, but it's not always laughs with Roenick.

In June, Roenick created a firestorm when, speaking of fans who blame players for the lockout, he said, ``We don't want you at the rink, we don't want you in the stadium, we don't want you to watch hockey.''

Roenick, who also said such fans could ``kiss my (butt),'' claimed his comments had been taken out of context and referred only to a minority of fans, a point he again made Thursday.

``I love the fans,'' Roenick said. ``I never said I didn't want the fans to come back. I specifically made reference to certain people who have a lot of hatred and a lot of jealousy toward pro athletes, people who probably don't even come to the games in the first place.

``Real hockey fans are important, and those people are going to come back in droves. I would never tell the fans to stay away. If they stay away, then most of what I play hockey for is out the window.''

Flyers fans adored Roenick because of his toughness. In 2004, Roenick broke his jaw and suffered a concussion but missed only six weeks and led the Flyers to the Eastern Conference Finals.

``He's a great competitor and ... a unique personality,'' Kings coach Andy Murray said. ``I think he's made for our market. He's going to help make sure that hockey gains some headlines.

``I like players that have passion, as long as it stays within the team concept.''

Roenick brings a combination of celebrity and talent that the Kings arguably haven't featured since Wayne Gretzky left town in 1996. Roenick, a deft playmaker and scorer, twice totaled 50 goals early in his 16-year career and had 19 goals and 28 assists in 62 games last season.

Kings general manager Dave Taylor said he made a phone call to Flyers GM Bob Clarke minutes after Philadelphia signed Peter Forsberg to discuss a trade for Roenick.

``This is a little bit like Showtime, like what the Lakers had (in the 1980s),'' Robitaille said. ``He's one of those guys, like Magic (Johnson). He's the total package and he's exactly what L.A. needed.

``We're going to be on the front page (of the newspapers) every day, good or bad.''

Roenick did nothing to play down his loose-cannon image. He playfully fueled the rivalry with the Mighty Ducks - ``Does Anaheim have a city? Are there any big buildings there?'' he said - and said his goals for the season were to play well enough to earn a contract extension and a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

The signing of Roenick would seem to diminish the chance that the Kings will re-sign Ziggy Palffy. The Kings now have roughly $30 million committed to this season's roster, but Taylor said he continues to have discussions with Palffy's agent and would not rule out signing the winger.

Given that the Kings also signed Pavol Demitra, they might focus on defense instead of signing another winger such as Palffy. In either case, Roenick said he believes Taylor has put together ``a team to be reckoned with'' and Robitaille said he now considers the Kings to be championship contenders.

``I feel great,'' Roenick said. ``I think the year off has saved my career. I think it added maybe two or three years. I had time to sit back and relax and get a new drive for the game.''

Rich Hammond, (818) 713-3611

rich.hammond(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) Jeremy Roenick gives the thumbs-up sign during a news conference after the Kings acquired him in a trade Thursday.

Nick Ut/Associated Press

(2) Jeremy Roenick is a nine-time NHL All-Star. He helped Philadelphia reach the Eastern Conference Finals in 2004.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 5, 2005
Words:878
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