LEWISTON – Character counts.

That’s what the Los Angeles Kings are saying after making a trade with the New York Rangers on Monday.

The main participants in the deal are NHL players Sean Avery, who goes from the Kings to the Rangers, and Jason Ward, who will now lace up his skates on the West coast.

But Lewiston Maineiacs’ captain Marc-Andre Cliche is also involved. In fact, he was a key piece of the puzzle, according to Kings’ general manager Dean Lombardi.

“From our standpoint, the key is the young player, Cliche, who has impressed us,” Lombardi told the Associated Press.

“It’s always a mixed feeling in a trade,” Cliche said from his home in Lewiston on Monday night. “At first it is weird, because I was ready to sign with the Rangers, but it is nice that (the Kings) wanted me, too.”

Also nice, Cliche said, is that he will now, at least on paper, remain current Maineiacs’ goalie Jonathan Bernier’s teammate for a few more years.

“I’m pretty happy with it, too, because that is where Bernier will be,” Cliche said.

Bernier got to break the news to his captain Monday afternoon.

“They called me twice today, but I was in school,” Cliche said. “They finally reached Jonathan, and he told me at school.”

Bernier is one of the reasons the Kings noticed Cliche in the first place. With scouts at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee watching Bernier regularly, Cliche started to turn some heads.

And then, he made the Canadian national team.

“Where he started to impress me was when we saw him with the Canadian national team camp,” Lombardi told the Los Angeles Times. “He seemed like one of those players who would do anything to make the team. The way they put the junior team together, they are cognizant of character guys filling certain roles.

“I’m not saying he’s a top talent, but if character is a talent, that’s something he’s got an abundance.”

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