LOS ANGELES - Flyers coach John Stevens says he will always have "a soft spot in my heart" for Randy Jones.
Stevens, who coached Jones with the Flyers and with the Phantoms when they won the AHL title, was disappointed when the Los Angeles Kings claimed the 28-year-old defenseman on reentry waivers on Oct. 29.
He was claimed because Kings coach Terry Murray also has a soft sport for Jones, having coached him when he was a Flyers assistant.
"To have an opportunity to get him back was a no-brainer because I know how he can play," Murray said before the Kings hosted the Flyers last night. "He's an NHL defenseman. I know that."
"I was happy it happened and happy to be here," Jones said.
Entering last night, Jones had two goals and two assists in four games with the Kings and was playing on their penalty-killing unit and power play. The Flyers had sent him to the Adirondack Phantoms this fall in a salary-cap move, and the team tried to sneak him through reentry waivers and put him back in the lineup.
With the Kings, Jones worked his way into Murray's lineup after about two weeks.
"He knows how I play, and I know how he coaches. There's definitely a comfort level between the two of us," Jones said.
Jones conceded it was a little strange facing Stevens and his ex-teammates.
"But it's a business, and it is what it is," he said. "You've got to make the best of it and move forward."
Before he headed to L.A., Jones met with Stevens.
"I had a chance to thank him and wish him luck," Stevens said. "Anybody that moves on, we keep an eye on them and cheer for them."
"I spent six years with him, and just because there's a move in your career doesn't mean you have to be enemies," Jones said.
Jones had off-season hip surgery, and Murray says he has become more mobile each day.
"He's starting to feel more comfortable physically, coming off that injury from last year and rehabbing through the summertime," Murray said. "I kind of sense that now he feels getting through a game that everything is good and he can just move forward."
The L.A. Flyers?
The Kings, who play with a hard-nosed edge, are slowly becoming Philadelphia West. Dean Lombardi, who serves as general manager and president, assistant general manager Ron Hextall, Murray, Jones, right winger Justin Williams, and center Michal Handzus all have ties to the Flyers.
It's by design, Murray said.
"We're trying to bring an attitude that the Flyers have shown in the past. We're trying to be a hard team [to play against], a gritty team," he said. "We want to play with good structure on the defensive side of the game first. I know that's been the philosophy of Philadelphia over the years. In order to be a successful team, that's the foundation that you have to have on a consistent basis."
Backup goalie Brian Boucher made just his second start of the season last night for the Flyers. Ray Emery has a 1.87 goals-against average in his last eight starts. "Ray's played three games in five days and traveled," Stevens said. "Boosh is rested. We'll have lots of hockey this week, so it's a good opportunity for Boosh to get in and at the same time get Ray some rest." Emery will play tomorrow in San Jose, and Stevens said he had not decided who would start Saturday in Phoenix. . . . Saturday's 8 p.m. radio broadcast will be moved from WIP-AM (610) to WPHT-AM (1210) because of a conflict with the 76ers' contest. . . . The Kings last night were missing top-line left winger Ryan Smyth (upper-body injury) and defenseman Rob Scuderi (lower-body injury). . . . The Flyers' Matt Carle entered last night leading the NHL with a plus-17 rating.
- Sam Carchidi