Sean O’Donnell: mentor, former Duck

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…

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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.”

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  • Robbie F

    I don’t know, still not buying into the whole JJ-hype. No offense Rich, but you make it sound like this guy is Rob Blake in his prime, and asking the questions of who will take his place. Not that I don’t believe that JJ will get to an elite level, but he’s just not even close and has yet to show me anything that I’m truly thinking I’ll miss in the next few months. If I’m disappointed about anything, it’s the valuable game-time the kid needs to further his potential.

  • mrbrett7

    Robbie…Johnson has played ONE full NHL season…what do you expect from him? Blake came in at a time in the game where if you could actually skate backwards, you were a God Defenseman.

  • Robbie F

    brett, that’s the point. I don’t expect much from JJ at all…except that I wish he wasn’t missing out on this valuable time to gain experience. I just don’t feel like losing him AT THIS POINT IN TIME is really hurting the team that badly. Follow me?

  • Tim

    Hey Rich,

    I was at one of the camps and have been watching the games… to me JJ looks like he’s has been trying to fit in to his new body. What I mean by that is that he obviously has added some muscle and it looks like to me that he’s not as quick/agile as he was towards the end of last year before he broke his foot.

    I really hope he comes back healthy and they don’t rush this along to fast.

    What are your thoughts on JJ up until this point?

    Thanks!

  • MS

    Nah, Blake was better in his first year, in my opinion. With that said, I’m not a big fan of either of them.

    JJ seems to play almost a “pseudo-Blake” style, which I don’t believe is the direction he should be going in. Maybe it’s unfortunate he had to play along side Blake for his first season.

    I think Doughty is a much more exciting pick-up than JJ will ever be. You can almost see the “Paul Coffey” in him now.

  • EJ

    Whatever you think of Johnson, it still doesn’t change the fact that the Kings need to rely on someone else to play those 20+ premium minutes every game. That’s not all that easy to do given the list of d-men at Murray’s disposal.

  • MS

    Kyle Quincey=10 minutes + Peter Harrold=10 minutes=problem solved.

  • typicaljs

    For those of you doubting JMFJ, you will be eating your words 2-3 years from now. The year JMFJ was drafted, at the scouting combine the scouts were asking all the players “What are you most afraid of?” I believe it was Crosby but there’s no evidence to prove it (all the players at the combine are expected to be first round picks) that quickly answered with “Jack Johnson”

    The majority of canada dislikes him already for being a bad ass in the WJC.

    Please, I’m sure you were probally one of the people who were also getting impatient with Dustin Brown. It takes some time for kids who a few years ago were teen-agers to adapt to playing in the best league in the world full of full-grown professional athletes.

    Please, give the kid a few years before you make any comments like that. He’ll figure out his game, and you’ll probally end up buying a Johnson jersey.

  • MS

    And when you settle for his mediocrity…

    Keep your eye focused more closely on Doughty, you’ll be better off.

  • Anonymous

    typicaljs,

    i think this is what you are referring to:

    4. Jack Johnson, 21, Los Angeles Kings, D: We see a lot of upside in Johnson’s game. So do the Kings. Barring something unforeseen, he’ll be staying in L.A.

    Keep ‘em or ship ‘em?: Keep ‘em. When I was GM in Tampa, one of our interview questions the year at Johnson’s draft was “Tell us something you fear.” A lot of players said “Spiders, snakes, heights, etc.” One player didn’t miss a beat and answered, “Jack Johnson!”

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/preview2008/columns/story?columnist=hradek_ej&id=3617372

  • Anonymous

    If it was crosby that said that about whack johnson, it was probably because they were best friends in school.

  • MS

    I just think he’ll be an average to above utility d-man. Has decent acceleration and hands, good vision. There’s nothing wrong with that.

    I was just stating he’s not going to be a super star, like Doughty could, and I think will be.

  • 24diving

    I have to agree with MS. At this point, (three whole games!), I have been more impressed by the overall play of Doughty than I was by Johnson in his first few games. I was also pretty appalled to see that the mentoring by Blake led to him following in his footsteps by going out of position leaving the goal underdefended, leading to a goal for San Jose in the first game. Right now, with such a small basis of comparison I get the impression that Doughty will be the more elite defenseman, though Johnson will most likely be a good defenseman.

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