Randy Jones will make his Kings debut tonight, in place of Sean O’Donnell, and also will take O’Donnell’s spot as Jack Johnson’s partner. Why O’Donnell? Not surprisingly, because Terry Murray wants to give the 38-year-old O’Donnell a little rest, with the team on an East Coast road trip and a back-to-back set coming up.
So what about Jones? Claimed off waivers from Philadelphia on Oct. 29, Jones had not played in an NHL game this season and spent most of the summer recuperating from hip surgery. Murray kept Jones out of the lineup for almost two weeks largely out of concern about Jones’ conditioning, and Murray said that if Jones struggles tonight, Peter Harrold, his “utility player’’ could also take some shifts on defense.
Here’s what Murray said about Jones today…
MURRAY: “He’s an all-situations player. He carries the puck, he can get it out of trouble with his puck-handling skills and skating ability. He can jump in on the power play, on your second back. I go back to my last year with the Flyers. (Kimmo) Timonen got hurt in that playoff series against Montreal, and then the first shift against Pittsburgh, (Braydon) Coburn went out with the puck to the eye. So your two best defensemen went down right away, so Randy Jones was a player you looked to, against Pittsburgh, to play a lot of minutes, important minutes, and he did. He played well. He played very well.
“He’s coming off an injury, at the end of the year last season, with hip surgery, and he spent most of his offseason just on the rehab part of it, so hockey conditioning was a bit of a concern for me when he got here. That’s a part of the reason he didn’t get in the lineup right away. It gave us an opportunity to get through the on-ice part of it, to give him a push to the next level. It’s time he gets in and starts to go.”