The Kings spent all summer, and a big chunk of training camp, trying to find a veteran left-shot defenseman to pair with Drew Doughty, and they eventually traded with the Ducks to acquire Sean O’Donnell. By all accounts, the trade has worked out well for the Kings. O’Donnell has been a responsible defender and penalty-killer and has been a reliable mentor for Doughty, the Kings’ 18-year-old rookie. O’Donnell talked about Doughty’s progress and his role in helping Doughty develop…
Question: Have you ever been partnered with an 18-year-old before?
O’DONNELL: “I had Aki Berg when he first came to L.A., but I think Drew is mentally more mature, and Aki had to deal with the language barrier too, which was tough, being away from home and being in a different country and stuff. Drew is 18 going on 25 out there, maturity wise.”
Question: This might be a tough question for you to answer, but do you feel like you’ve been good for him?
O’DONNELL: “I don’t know if he needs much calming down. He’s a pretty poised guy. I think there’s been some times when we’ve talked about some things, and I’d like to think I’ve helped a little bit. I can’t take a lot of credit, when you have a guy who has that much talent and who is that level-headed, but if I can even give him a little bit of direction, it makes me feel pretty good.”
Question: What’s the biggest surprise with him? What should he be struggling with that he’s not?
O’DONNELL: “Thinking through the game, and the poise. We played Detroit the other day and Detroit, not only are they good, but they’re smart and they can pick apart a player who overcommits to a play or runs around too much. I thought he did a real good job of just letting the play come to him. He gets the game. He understands what the other teams are trying to do, and when you do that you’re able to anticipate what they’re trying to do and your positioning is a lot better. I think that’s one of the things that Drew is lucky with. Not only does he have the physical ability, he also gets the game, and that’s a great combination. Not too many people can do that.”
Question: Is there still some significant room for improvement there?
O’DONNELL: “Oh yeah. I think he’s still very raw. I think maybe sometimes he tries to do too much at times. He’s been head and shoulders above everyone else, for the last two or three years, at his level, and maybe he tries to do a little bit too much. I try to talk to him a little bit, but you don’t want to crush that. You don’t want him to think that every time he gets the puck, he should just throw it off the glass and make the safe play, but there are also certain times in a game, and with certain lines, where you want to keep it simple. That’s just part of growing in the game, and part of the maturity that comes with the more games you play in this league.”