It’s a big night for Sean O’Donnell, who faces the Ducks, the team that traded him to the Kings during training camp. O’Donnell discusses his first game against his former mates and also shares his thoughts about how the Kings must make up for the absence of Jack Johnson, who underwent surgery Tuesday to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Here’s what O’Donnell had to say…
Question: How can you try to overcome the loss of Jack Johnson?
O’DONNELL: “We just have to do it by committee. Maybe Drew plays a little more than he was going to, and myself and Matt Greene and all of us are going to have to pick up the lost ice time and try to hold the fort until the all-star break.”
Question: Is there a pyschological aspect to it,
O’DONNELL: “It is tough. Like I said, he’s a guy who can play in every situation and play a lot of minutes. But this is still a defense that has a lot to prove, whether it’s (guys who) come from other organizations or young players or guys looking for a second chance. So in a selfish way we have to look at this as… we’d love to have Jack back, and we’re looking forward to having him back, but in the meantime, maybe guys get extra situations and extra ice time. Guys have to take it on and rise to the occasion. It’s not a selfish thing. It’s just that this is the hand we’ve been dealt and we have to try to make a positive thing out of it and see what happens.”
Question: Are you pretty impressed with Doughty’s play so far?
O’DONNELL: “Yeah. To be at that age… I think I was in my second year of junior. He’s obviously gifted. It’s going to take him a while. I think he’s realizing that he’s playing against men now, the best of the best, so there’s still a bit of a learning curve when it comes to that, but the basics of the game, I’m impressed with. He gets it, the little things. You hear about a quarterback who has a great arm and this and that, but maybe they don’t `get it.’ And other quarterbacks don’t look so good on paper but they get it. He obviously has a ton of physical talent but he just has to get the game. I talk to him about things. He will say something and I’ll say, `Exactly. that’s what you need to do.’ He understands the game of hockey.”
Question: You mentioned (after the trade) that it would good to get the first game against the old team done in preseason. Is this just another game tonight?
O’DONNELL: “No. I’d be lying if I said it’s just another game. I’m looking forward to this game. You’re always nervous to play against your old team. I think any player, in the back of his mind, would love to have a great game. In a perfect world, I think every player would love to have a great game and have the other team scratch their head and say, `Maybe we made a mistake.’ It’s not going to happen, but you just want to go out there and play as hard as you can. I’m 37 now. You’re still proving, every day, that you belong in this league and that you can still contribute, whether that’s the team I’m on now or the team I played for or myself. It will be fun to play against those guys. I’m a little nervous because I shared a lot with them, but it will be fun to do it.”
Question: They might be scratching their heads, based on how things have gone there…
O’DONNELL: “I think we’re going to see a hungry, desperate Anaheim team coming in here. It doesn’t get any easier.”
Question: Anybody you’re going to take a shot at, or who’s going to take a shot at you?
O’DONNELL: “No, I don’t think so. I think I got along with most of the guys. I’m sure I’m going to get hit, and hit hard, because that’s the way they play. I think that if I’m in a vulnerable position, they might hold up a little bit, but that’s just the way they play. George (Parros) and Brad (May) and (Brian) Sutherby, pretty much all their forwards. It’s going to be a long night. They like to wear the `D’ down. I don’t mind that style, so I’m looking forward to it.”