Los Angeles Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi rarely makes a gaffe on the ice, so it’s ironic his nickname was born out of one.
When Scuderi was with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he mistakenly told a reporter that he was “the piece of the puzzle” for the team.
Not “a piece,” but “THE piece.” Which obviously was a point of hilarity for a locker room that included Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
“The Piece” stuck as a nickname for Scuderi – along with the more hockey-linguistic “Scuds” – because he’s been an essential one for two Stanley Cup-winning teams. He logged big minutes and played stout defense for the 2009 Penguins; last season for the Kings, he played 30 shifts a game and finished with a plus-9 in 20 games en route to the Cup.
This season, Scuderi is second on the Kings in ice time (28:08 on average) to defensive partner Drew Doughty (28:08). He leads the team with 23 blocked shots – his forte – and had six in the Game 3 loss.
It’s what he does, and has been doing for years.
“I’ve been playing the same ugly but effective game since I was 18. If you pulled up college video of me, you’d be seeing me doing the same exact thing,” Scuderi, 34, told LAKings.com.
“Although I know I’m the oldest guy here, it’s not something I think about or dwell on. I just try to enjoy myself and play the game hard and try to be a good leader for everyone else.”
How’s his leadership? As captain Dustin Brown told LA Kings Insider:
“It’s all in the way he plays. He does all the right things at the right times. He sacrifices his body. It’s those types of things, and he’s never looking for any recognition. He just goes about his business, just kind of undercover…if you don’t notice him, he’s having a really good game.”
Scuderi becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, as his 4-year deal with the Kings ends. He’s a valuable piece to the Kings’ championship-caliber roster; but will someone else ante up more for “The Piece” in the offseason?