On the morning of December 3, 2013, more than a few Kings fans had expressed their reticence - and even displeasure - that Ben Scrivens would not be starting in goal in Anaheim versus a Ducks team who had, at that point, yet to lose a regulation game on home ice. After Jonathan Quick suffered a groin injury just a few weeks earlier, Scrivens was thrust into the spotlight, helping Los Angeles earn points in nine of their next 10 outings. But after beating St. Louis the previous night, Scrivens needed a rest. Enter Martin Jones.
It was inevitable to see Martin Jones get the call in goal for the Kings, although few had predicted it would be so soon. The aforementioned fans who showed both reticence and displeasure were facetiously wishing Jones the best of luck (although not to his face) as he was going to make his NHL debut against the then-league-leading Anaheim Ducks in their home building where they were dominant having, as previously mentioned, being undefeated in regulation.
But whatever skeptics the Kings had from their fanbase dwindled when the game started. Jones stood as tall as his 6' 4 frame in his debut, stopping 26 of 28 shots before stoning all eight Ducks in a marathon shootout which Los Angeles won on a goal by Dwight King. Anaheim's home regulation record may have remained intact but fans in attendance at the Honda Center that night were introduced to one Martin Jones.
While undrafted, Martin Jones did have a promising resume entering professional hockey. En route to leading his Calgary Hitmen to a WHL Championship, Jones won the playoff MVP as well as garnering First All-Star Team honours. Jones was also part of Team Canada's silver-medal win at the 2010 World Juniors. But from the East Coast League to the AHL, it took some time for Jones to make the jump to the big club, and he did that with said convincing win in Anaheim. But that was just the start.
Following his successful debut, Jones, a native of Vancouver, proceeded to lead the charge in goal for the Kings until Jonathan Quick returned. Jones was so impressive that he tied an NHL record for the best start by a goaltender to begin his career at 8-0-0. That mark tied him with Philadelphia's Bob Froese in 1982-83.
*Speaking of Bob Froese, according to Bill Meltzer, author of Pelle Lindbergh: Behind the White Mask, the netminder was on the verge of being traded to the Kings early in the 1985-86 season. Sadly, the Flyers' other - and more potent - goaltender Pelle Lindbergh was tragically killed in a car accident, thus canceling any such deal.
But back to Martin Jones.
After the 23-year-old's stellar start, he went just 4-6-0 for the rest of the season, finishing with a 12-6-0 record, but did finish with a 1.81 goals-against average and a save percentage of .934. In the playoffs, however, Jones took part in just two games - both relief appearances. Although because he did win a Stanley Cup, this past postseason definitely could have been much worse for the towering netminder.
If both fans of the Los Angeles Kings and Martin Jones himself were looking for an auspicious start, they got just that. As promising as he does look, though, Jones will see limited ice time as long as Jonathan Quick is around.
Martin Jones is entering the final year of his contract before becoming a restricted free agent but we will see how 2014-15 turns out for the youngster. Overall, a great first impression.
Overall grade for Martin Jones: B+