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Kevin Westgarth's Blog: Honored to be an enforcer

Kevin Westgarth has eight goals, 16 points and 96 PIMs in 43 games this season. (Steve Babineau)

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Kevin Westgarth has eight goals, 16 points and 96 PIMs in 43 games this season. (Steve Babineau)

On to the next half…

Well, Christmas has passed and we’re through the halfway point of the year. This part of the year can seem to slow down, as we’re in the doldrums of the hockey season.

None of the games are taken for granted, but it seems as if all the three-in-threes and four-in-fives start to run together. It can sometimes seem just a little harder to generate that energy and excitement you need to play the game.

However, the all-star break gave us another couple of days to recharge our batteries before beginning the final leg of the season, when everything begins pick up speed. The games begin to get quicker and every point is becoming more important as the playoff picture takes shape.

We are having a great season in Manchester, but have found ourselves in the loss column more than we’re used to lately. Perhaps we’re finally succumbing to the injury bug that has plagued our team – as well as the Kings – this season, or perhaps we’re just having an inevitable skid.

Losing is never acceptable, but in this game of mistakes, it’s going to happen. The most important thing is how teams deal with these setbacks. Often the worst thing teams do is they begin panicking and try to start from scratch. When things have been going right for so long, people can get nervous; I know I can.

Obviously problems must be addressed, but the teams that continue to believe in what they’re doing come out on top. A few wins, or even great efforts, can restore any lost confidence and put the train back on the right track.

The best part of the Monarchs is we have those steadfast leaders, always pulling the boys in the same direction. Throughout the season, as some of the faces have changed, we’ve never lost the main focus of the team.

Drew Bagnall, Marc-Andre Cliche and Joe Piskula are just a few guys who have been there for us all season, even if they’ve been injured. We’ve even added some great veterans in Shawn Bates and Doug Nolan, who have helped strengthen the dressing room. Plus, it’s always fun to have a couple Massachusetts guys around to tell you how ugly and dumb you are.

It’s a great group to be around and I’m glad to be able to be a part of it. As some of you may know, I am something of the enforcer on the Monarchs, a role I am honored to play.

I take a great deal of pride in keeping my teammates safe on (and sometimes off) the ice. It’s a role that has been around since the dawn of the game and some of my favourite players in history have filled it. John Ferguson, Terry O’Reilly, Stan Jonathan, Dave Semenko, Bob Probert, Marty McSorley, Stu Grimson – and the list goes on and on.

(I actually had the pleasure of meeting McSorley and Grimson during Kings HockeyFest ’09 and they’re two great guys).

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Like many of these guys I’ve been able to continue to develop the non-fisticuff aspects of my game by playing with more talented players. And in the next blogstallment, I’ll discuss the culture of the enforcer and why it’s so awesome.

Working with some great teammates, it seems like I’m getting more opportunities to score this year and a lot more are going in. Part of this renaissance is a mental change – by remembering I can score and help out by getting points – and part of it is need.

Given our roster changes this season, we’ve needed to find scoring from other players on the team, ‘Elks’ (Corey Elkins) and ‘Bud’ (Holloway) can’t do it all and I’m more than happy to chip in.

It’s getting to the point where mom and dad don’t even sound surprised anymore if I score when I talk to them after a game.

Three Books with Kevin Westgarth
Another Roadside Attraction, by Tom Robbins
This is a great read from a great author who has something of a cult following from what I understand. I may count myself among them after reading this incredible tale set during the ‘60s. It follows many colorful characters in their exploits across the U.S. It’s the post-beat book that Jack Kerouac may have written a couple years later.

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
‘Greener’ gave me No Country for Old Men, by McCarthy, and I enjoyed it, so why not read another one they turned into a movie? The pace is deliberate and occasionally agonizing, but the father and son relationship is great to watch unfold. Also, I guess if there had been an apocalypse when I was a kid, I’d want Viggo Mortensen as my dad, too.

SuperFreakonomics
, by Levitt and Dubner
Another interesting read about different ways to look at the world. It’s much of the same as the first Freakonomics, but nevertheless interesting. Always looking to start with something controversial, the writers’ prologue “proves” it’s safer to drink and drive than drink and walk. Hmm…get a cab.

Well, until the next blogstallment, keep your hands up and your chin down.

To find out more about L.A. Kings hockey, check out lakings.com.

Signed as a free agent out of Princeton, Kevin Westgarth is a 6-foot-5, 247 pound right wing prospect for the Los Angeles Kings. He played in his first nine NHL games during the 2008-09 season after spending parts of two seasons with Manchester of the American League. A native of Amherstburg, Ont., the 25-year-old Westgarth will blog throughout the season for THN.com. Click HERE to read his other entries.

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