Parrish the thought

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

It took a change of scenery to open Mark Parrish's eyes to the wild, wild West.

When Parrish was traded from Long Island to the Los Angeles Kings before the deadline, he joined a team that appeared to be in good shape for the playoffs despite some bouts of inconsistency.

The Kings had won five straight games and sat second in the Pacific Division, while Parrish's New York Islanders were already all but eliminated from post-season play this season.

Less than a month later, the Kings are on the outside looking in -- currently 10th in the Western Conference, fourth in the division and winners of just three of their nine games since Parrish and defenceman Brent Sopel were acquired for the stretch run.

Parrish says he was thrilled to join the Kings but, having toiled in the Eastern Conference all season, had no idea just how tight the battle for playoff spots was in the West.

"Not until I got here. I didn't realize exactly how tight it was until I finally did get traded," said Parrish after a morning skate at the Saddledome yesterday. "I was sitting in Detroit looking at the standings, it kind of opened my eyes a little bit.

"Getting back into the thick of a playoff race was fun. It's exciting. This is the time of year that you play for."

Adding to the drama is that Andy Murray was replaced by John Torchetti as the Kings head coach last week, something Parrish never would have expected when he first arrived.

"I didn't really see that coming at all," said Parrish. "When I got traded, the guys won five games in a row. Struggled a little bit right after the trade deadline but I didn't see that coming at all."

Like teammate Craig Conroy, who has a history of losing coaches shortly after joining a new team, Parrish joked he may be the source of hard luck after former Islanders coach Steve Stirling was let go in January.

"I wasn't here long, I wasn't even here two weeks and the coach got fired," said the 29-year-old. "Being the second coach that was fired this year while I was playing for that team, I was starting to think maybe it was me."

Consensus among the Kings players is Torchetti has lightened the mood in the dressing room and given the team new focus. While it will take a grand finish to recapture one of the top eight seeds, Parrish says he and his teammates believe it can be done.

"I know we still feel we own our own destiny right now," said Parrish. "We struggled a little bit there. We were a little inconsistent, really couldn't find our groove. It's not who you're playing against, it's just going out there and outworking who you're playing."


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