D.J. King's season with the Capitals has included an awful lot of practices and a grand total of 6 minutes and 58 seconds of ice time in an actual game. So his camp asked the team to do something about it.
On Monday, the Caps put King on waivers, something the enforcer said was "being fair" to him.
"I just asked for them to respect I need to play hockey, and they're doing it," he said. "If I wasn't playing here, just to give me a chance to play somewhere else."
King hasn't been able to crack the Caps lineup, despite adding what coach Bruce Boudreau has referred to as the "protection" that comes with walking down the street with a big brother. He was a "coach's decision" healthy scratch in eight of nine games and played only against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 15. He took only nine shifts, which Boudreau explained as relating to a tight game.
Being on waivers with at least the chance to go elsewhere is what King wants.
"I need to play hockey," he said. "If I want to prolong my career in the NHL, I've got to play hockey. No one can prolong their career if they're only playing 15 games a year."
Fellow enforcer George Parros, in town with the Anaheim Ducks to face the Caps, understands King's tough spot.
"It's a tough thing to do to sit around and play minimal minutes and not even dress for games," Parros said. "It's really hard – especially guys at this level. … If you can get more playing time or a better job somewhere else, I'm sure that's what he's looking to do."
And it's something the Caps showed their willing to help with by putting him on waivers. He can be claimed by any NHL team, which would pick up his $637,500 cap hit and the remaining salary on his deal, which ends following this season.
King was placed on waivers last season but went unclaimed. The Caps did not send the veteran left wing down to Hershey and likely would not if the same happened this time.
"We're just, I think, trying to find the level of interest at this stage," Boudreau said. "We want him to play. But it might mean nothing. If there's nothing, it doesn't mean sending him down or any of those things. He might be in the lineup [Tuesday] night."
More likely if he's still around King will again be a healthy scratch yet again, his problem remaining unsolved.
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