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Puckin' Around With Spector

Doughty Will Have To Earn More Than Money

By the time you read this, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty will either be re-signed to a new contract, or his standoff with management will continue.

Plenty of opinions have bandied about in recent weeks – pro and con – over the Doughty contract saga, most focusing on what the Kings are believed offering (over seven years at $6.8 million per) and what Doughty’s agent is seeking (five year, $7 million per, an earlier shot at UFA status) for his client.

It remains to be seen what Doughty eventually gets, but it’s a good bet it’ll be lucrative, ranking him among the highest paid players on the Kings, as well as amongst the highest paid in his group of players aged 21-25 under their second NHL contracts.

Puck Daddy blogger Harrison Mooney recently asked if Kings fans would forgive Doughty if he returns from a possible contract holdout.

That, of course, will depend on his performance.

If Doughty becomes a Norris trophy finalist whilst carrying the Kings to the Stanley Cup next June, most of his critics will be too busy singing his praises to remember any harsh opinions they may have had of his salary demands, and the few who do will keep silent for fear of ridicule.

If he plays well and helps the Kings not only make the playoffs but advance beyond the first round of the playoffs, it’ll probably mollify most of his critics, who’ll predict better things next season without a pesky contract standoff robbing him of valuable training camp/preseason prep time.

If he struggles through the first half or the entire season, finishes with lesser numbers than those he put up in last season’s concussion-hampered performance, and is a non-factor in the playoffs, the knives will be unsheathed. 

His critics will not only take him to task, calling him spoiled, greedy, lazy and misguided, they’ll alsocall on management to trade his sorry ass.

Doughty would slink away into the off-season to lay low, avoid the press and lick his wounds, emerging briefly later in the summer to issue a vow to improve the following season.

Even without his contract negotiations degenerating into a media and blogosphere sideshow, Doughty was going to face considerable expectations heading into this season. The standoff in his contract negotiations merely heightens them.

He had a tremendous sophomore campaign in 2009-10, helping the Kings to their first post-season appearance in nearly a decade, and at only 20 years of age becoming a finalist for the Norris Trophy.

Factor in he was also arguably the best defenseman for Canada’s gold medal-winning men’s ice hockey team at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and suddenly Doughty was being considered the second coming of Bobby Orr, or at the very least, of vintage 1990s Rob Blake, the Kings last great defenseman.

But a concussion early last season took him out of the lineup for six games, which following his return seemed to take some of the starch out his game.
The numbers were still impressive – 13 goals, 40 points, +13 – but not an improvement over the remarkable 16-goal, 59 point, +20 performance of the previous year.

In the 2011 first round match-up against the San Jose Sharks, Doughty was outstanding in Game Two – with two goals and four points – but a non-factor for much of the series, won by the Sharks in six games.

Prior to the contract debacle, the concern entering this season was whether or not he shook off whatever lingering after-effects remained from his concussion (psychological, if not physical) which hampered last season’s performance, and elevate himself into the superstar defenseman he was expected to become.

Clearly, Kings management believes he can become that superstar. Their willingness to lock him up for at least seven years for the same salary per season as Anze Kopitar, their highest paid player, is attributable as much to that belief as to the desire to retain him over a longer term for a more affordable salary.

Ultimately, whatever he and Kings management eventually settle on is irrelevant. It’s going to be lucrative, and at the end of it, he’ll be eligible for UFA status, and the Kings will then have to decide if he’s worth top dollar to retain, and he’ll have to decide if he wants to remain a King.

That’s the business of the sport and isn’t going to change.

While the potential for bad blood between himself and/or his agent and management could linger over the tenure of his new deal and potentially impact his future with the team, the treatment he receives from the fans will also become a factor, especially if, in their estimation, he fails to meet their expectations.

What matters is not only if Doughty can earn that new salary, but also earn back the respect and goodwill of the Kings fans disgusted and disappointed by the contract standoff.

Filed in: | Puckin' Around With Spector | Permalink
  Tags: drew+doughty, la+kings

Comments

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I don’t understand why the onus is all on Doughty.  If he comes in after missing TC and plays poorly, and the Kings as a team suffer, Lombardi should face his share of critics too.

He seems the reason that these negotiations have been so public and contentious, and he’s the one drawing a line in the sand and saying that Doughty is no better than Kopitar (which is pretty ludicrous - every team in the league would take DD over Kopitar straight up). 

Bear in mind that Kopitar signed his $6.8 mil average deal after a 32 goal, 77 point sophomore season.  The cap was lower and he was less established than Doughty at the time (and he signed for 7 years, not 9 as the King’s offer is reported to be, losing fewer FA years).  To insist that this must be Doughty’s standard is hard headed. 

There is very little reason to not use the Stamkos deal as Doughty’s ideal comparable.  I don’t know what he’s asking (because his agent hasn’t made his demands public) but he seems to me to be entirely entitled to a 5 year deal in the 7 million dollar range, and any additional years on top of that should be purchased at a premium that reflects at least somewhat what he could get as a 27 year old UFA.

Posted by jonquixote on 09/21/11 at 06:25 PM ET

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Lombardi’s runs as much or more risk looking like an idiot as Doughty does for looking greedy.

If Lombardi won’t budge from 6.8 over 7 to 7 over 5, then this issue is 100% about Lombardi’s stupidity and 0% about Doughty’s greed.

If I were Doughty I’d say one of two things.  Either a) “Fine.  I’ll take Lombardi’s asinine 6.8 mil a year cap max for a player slot, but only for 4 years.’ or b) ‘Screw you.  I’m going to sign the QO and then take the Kings to arbitration each and every year until I hit UFA status or until some other team writes an offer sheet at a moment Lombardi will be hamstrung and unable to match it.’

Lombardi has to decide if he wants to keep Doughty, or if he wants to keep an absurd pay scale indexed to the compensation of his not-best player.  At this rate, though, it won’t be Lombardi’s problem to fix.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/21/11 at 06:26 PM ET

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hi Lyle
Great to see you back doing what you do so well.

It’s hard to believe how greedy these agents are today. I’m sure these players in their first few years are just happy to be in the NHL.  However along comes an agent, signs the kid and starts filling his head with huge notions of what he is worth. The kid starts to believe it.

What nobody stops to consider is where’s the game going?? High ticket prices stop a parent from taking their kid[s] to a game. Corporations that are not doing too well these days, will stop buying the season tickets they buy every year in big blocs..

There are numerous teams in financial trouble as we speak.  If they start folding, each one costs 18-22 players their jobs and watch the salaries come down then due to supply and demand.

I always thought that pro sports were for kids to enjoy and dream of being part of.    It was when I was a kid growing up in Western Canada. i just hope kids today and in the future aren’t denied their dreams.

regards
Cobra

Posted by cobrahockey from AZ on 09/22/11 at 05:11 PM ET

Lyle Richardson's avatar

Thanks, Cobra! Great to be working with the good folks here at the Korner!

Posted by Lyle Richardson on 09/22/11 at 05:27 PM ET

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Yes Doughty is a good player but still an apprentice and has not proved himself entirely. How can anyone in their right mind compare doughty to Mr.Orr period , Mr.Orr was 30 yrs ahead of his time and would drop the mitts with anyone ( Keith Magnuson ). All i’m saying is become a well rounded journeyman and prove to be durable then name your price.

Posted by stevensamler from toronto on 09/24/11 at 12:48 PM ET

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The offer was made down to 6 years according to helen elliott of the times. So that is the reason it should go all against dd. The 6.8mil hit would make him the fourth highest paided cap hit dman in the league at 21 and with 6 years would only take one RFA year. It is a very good offer from the kings and even at straight salary it would put him at number 10 and only one of those is not on a contract that uses ufa years and that is weber. It might not be right but try to compare it with stamkos is not good forwards in the leauge make more money that those on defense. At the 7 mil mark that you suggested that would make him tied for the 7th highest paid dmen in the league and cap hit would be third. I agree that the 9 years was a pie in the sky offer but once it got to the point of being 6 the story changed.

The biggest story is showing that the offer from the kings is fair is that there are no offer sheets coming in. Yes it takes two parties to agree to it but if the kings had low balled him it would not be unreasonable that many of the teams with the cap space would have made offers. He might not want to take them but we don’t know. But there are 12 teams that could offer him more than what the kings did and not have to clear cap space. And all but one of those could offer more than the kings even have avail to without having to clear cap space themselves. Not that dd is worth anywhere near 9.5mil a year, which is what the kings have avail.

And where dd can choose to not sign at anything but five years there is a very good reason the kings don’t want to do a five year deal. That puts their top forward and top dman up for ufa at the sametime. And that is a reciepe for disaster. Does dd have to care about this, of course not but if he does truely like the team and think it is going in the right direction if should come into play for him. And he has claimed from the begining that he was a kings fan from his youth and that being drafted by them was a dream come true.

Posted by displacedkingsfan on 09/24/11 at 08:08 PM ET

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About Puckin' Around With Spector

I’m Lyle Richardson. You might know me from my website, Spector’s Hockey, my thrice-weekly rumor column at THN.com, my weekly column at Eishockey News (if you read German), and my former gig as a contributing writer to Foxsports.com.

I’ll be writing a once-weekly blog here with my take on all things NHL. Who knows, I might actually find time to debunk a trade rumor or two.