EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- If there's one thing Jordan Nolan learned through the years, it's that he can't slack off when his dad is around. Working hard means the world to Ted Nolan. The Sabres' coach believes an honest effort can lead to great things.
Jordan Nolan is living proof.
The 25-year-old forward has two champion rings with the Los Angeles Kings. Though not the most talented player on the Stanley Cup-winning roster, Nolan gets by with size and a determined work ethic -- two things he got from his dad.
"He’s pretty honest," Jordan Nolan said today. "He’s pretty black and white, but he’s also always pushing me to get better and always there to support me if I have something to talk about. If I’m not working hard, that’s his main thing. He’ll let me know."
Ted Nolan will have a chance to gauge Jordan's effort from close range tonight. The Sabres visit the Kings, and it's the first time the family has collided in the NHL.
"We never expected this to happen, but I think lots of family members will be watching and it will be a special night for our family," Jordan said in the Kings' practice rink. "I’m definitely excited about tonight and playing in front of my dad. I always seem to work a little harder when he’s in the building, so hopefully the night goes well."
The 6-foot-3, 221-pound forward skates on the fourth line for the Kings. He has no points, eight hits and three blocked shots while averaging 9:37 per night. He plans to make the most of the minutes against the Sabres.
"It’s his dream to coach and mine to play," Jordan said. "He knows a lot about the game. I’m always trying to impress him, I’d say, and I’m always looking for advice. Whenever he’s in the building, I think I push a little harder because I want to make him proud and show him what I’ve got."
The family had a chance to get together twice before meeting on the ice. They met for dinner after Buffalo arrived on the West Coast, and Jordan drove to Anaheim to watch Buffalo's 4-1 loss Wednesday night.
Ted Nolan was a regular in L.A. after Jordan debuted in 2011-12, and the coach watched with his wife, Sandra, as the Kings won the Cup in June.
"To have them come to L.A. whenever I wanted and whenever they wanted was definitely nice," Jordan said, "but he has a job to do now."
One of Ted Nolan's previous jobs was assisting with his son's bantam team. Nolan ran the defense instead of the Jordan-led offense, and it was nice for both to share the experience.
It will be nice tonight, too, though Ted certainly has an in-depth scouting report ready for one of the Kings' players.
"Hopefully, he’s telling them to not touch me tonight," Jordan said with a laugh. "They’re a hard-working team, they’re physical, and I’m sure they’ll bring it tonight."