Josef Stumpel keys L.A. offense

Originally published on EuroReport in 2000

By Lucas Aykroyd

Jozef Stumpel is rarely the center of attention, but his smart playmaking skills are a big reason why the Los Angeles Kings enjoy the NHL’s second-best offense. Even though the 6-3, 225-pound center from Nitra, Slovakia has missed 25 games due to hernia surgery and a knee contusion this season, he brings the best out of linemates Zigmund Palffy and Luc Robitaille when he’s on the ice. The trio combined for 54 points in their last 11 games prior to a 24 February clash with the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place. That night, the 27-year-old Stumpel maintained the pace with two goals, including the winner, in a 5-2 L.A. triumph. Originally drafted 40th overall in 1991 by the Boston Bruins, Stumpel never got the respect he craved from general manager Harry Sinden, even after leading the team in scoring with 76 points in 1996-97. The August 1997 trade that brought him to the West Coast didn’t hurt his point-per-game production. And Stumpel, who recorded his 300th career point earlier this year, let EuroReport know he’s keen to see his Kings continue to climb the Western Conference standings.

EuroReport: How do you like playing with Palffy and Robitaille?

Jozef Stumpel: They’ve been just great for me. Since the first day in training camp, we’ve played together. Injuries have slowed us down a bit, but now we’re working together and looking forward to more success.

EuroReport: What do you think of your team’s performance this year?

Stumpel: From the start of the season, we’ve played pretty good. As I said, we’ve had some injuries, but we’re getting back on track. Goaltending is strong and the defense is playing well. I believe we can keep this going.

EuroReport: Tell me about how the trade from Boston has affected you.

Stumpel: I think it’s worked out well. I was fighting for a contract with Boston, and I couldn’t get close with them. So I was happy to come to Los Angeles. I like it over here. We’ve got great owners and great management. They’re really looking to go after the Stanley Cup.

EuroReport: What do you consider the highlight of your career so far?

Stumpel: It’s hard to tell. Every game is a different experience. I just try to be the best player I can be.

EuroReport: Are you hoping to get another chance to represent Slovakia at the Winter Olympics in 2002?

Stumpel: Yeah, hopefully it’s gonna be better than last time! In Nagano, I just came over but didn’t get to play. In 2002, I’m sure it’ll be great and I hope to be part of the Slovakian team.

EuroReport: What does this Kings team need to do to have a good run in the playoffs?

Stumpel: Obviously, we need to have good goaltending. We’ve got that right now. If we keep that up, I’m sure we can do some damage. Digg it Furl iFeedReaders Netscape RawSugar reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo MyWeb YardBarker

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