Kings' Sean O'Donnell: It won't be easy to face the Ducks
Sean O'Donnell, traded by the Ducks to the Kings before the season began, acknowledged he was a little nervous about facing his former team tonight at Staples Center.
O'Donnell, a steady and rugged defenseman, got caught in the Ducks' salary cap squeeze and was welcomed by the Kings as a voice of experience who can mentor their young defense corps. He averaged 21 minutes' ice time in the Kings' first two games, both losses. That's even more than the 20:20 he averaged for the Ducks during their sucessful 2007 Stanley Cup run.
"I shared a lot with them," he said after the Kings' game-day skate in El Segundo.
Though he's a veteran, the prospect of facing his friends and former teammates gave him some butterflies:
"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 former team. I think any player, in the back of his mind, would love to have a great game and have that team scratch their head and say, 'Maybe we made a bit of a mistake.'
"It's not going to happen but you just want to go out there and play as well as you can. I'm 37 now and you're still proving everyday that you still belong in this league and you can contribute."
Both teams lost their first two games, the Kings getting swept by San Jose in a home-and-home sequence and the Ducks losing at San Jose and at home to Phoenix. Someone's gotta win tonight, and it figures to be an emotional game.
"I think we're going to see a hungry, desperate Anaheim team coming in here," he said. "It doesn't get any easier."
And he doesn't expect his former teammates to take it too easy on him, though he's not expecting any cheap shots.
"I think I got along with most of the guys," he said, smiling. "I'm sure I'm going to get hit and hit hard. That's the way they play. But I think if maybe I'm in a vulnerable position they may hold up a little bit...
"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."
-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Vancouver Canucks' Kevin Bieksa, left, and Anaheim Ducks' Sean O'Donnell fight during the first period of an NHL preseason match on Sept. 28 in Anaheim. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press Photo