Don’t Panic!

Posted: July 16, 2011 by goaliesgetmorebetches in Los Angeles Kings
LA Kings' Defenseman Drew Doughty

Restricted Free Agent Drew Doughty, the cornerstone of the Kings' franchise, is still in contract negotiations with Kings' GM Dean Lombardi.

Speak to most any Kings’ fan right now about the recent additions to the LA lineup and you’re likely to get a couple minutes of enthusiastic chatter, perhaps a bit of trade skepticism (trading Schenn is going to come back to haunt us, don’t you know?!), discussion of ever present trade rumors. I’d wager than 9/10 fans will all transition at one point or another to the same topic: Why isn’t Drew Doughty signed yet?

To call Doughty an important cog in the Kings’ machine would be an understatement of sorts. He is the Kings’ franchise player, and young defenseman who figures to be in the conversation about the James Norris Memorial Trophy for the next decade, perhaps longer. He also became a Restricted Free Agent as of July 1st.

In the two weeks that have transpired since then, much speculation has been tossed about regarding the Kings’ superstar defenseman. He’s been rumored to have asked to become the highest paid King. He and his agents, Don Meehan and Mark Guy of Newport Sports, have both been accused of being greedy. Kings’ General Manager Dean Lombardi has been accused of being “cheap”. Some Kings’ fans are in a state of panic about it too.

It’s the type of thing that hockey’s mainstream media and blogosphere can generate a lot of attention from. Nothing sells like controversy. What better way to get more clicks on your blog, or sell a few more copies of your newspaper than to suggest there may be a conflict between player and management that might not end well. Bogus trade rumors are spawned and panic turns into mass hysteria. Fans are gripped with fear over the prospect of losing the team’s cornerstone player over a contract dispute.

Well, my message to Kings’ fans is simple. To borrow from the late great Douglas Adams of “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” fame:

Yup, simple as that. Contract negotiations take time. Both parties have a mutual interest. Doughty grew up a Kings’ fan, was thrilled to be drafted by Los Angeles and loves playing there. The Kings would like Doughty to be the last player in club history to wear #8. With the Kings having the ability to match any offer sheet that comes Doughty’s way (theoretically that is, there won’t be any offer sheet), there isn’t any sort of urgency to get Doughty signed yesterday, as much as we fans would love for it to happen. There are a lot of variables involved too – contract term, salary, bonus(es) and any no trade or no movement clauses. Both the Kings’ camp and Doughty’s representatives will keep talking until they strike a deal that is acceptable to both parties. Those well connected to the team – such as The Fourth Period’s Dennis Bernstein – have told fans not to expect a deal before August 1st- 2 more weeks. Part of this is simply because there hasn’t been a sense of urgency by either side to get a new deal done – which is all the more evidence to support there being nocause for concern at this point. The other speculated reason – and it makes sense – is that Doughty’s camp wants to see what Nashville’s Shea Weber is awarded at his arbitration hearing. Not that the two necessarily deserve to be paid the same – Doughty is coming of a season that could easily be called lackluster compared to his freshman and sophomore campaigns – but Weber’s deal will help serve as a barometer for elite defenseman and might help both Lombardi and Newport Sports to set a target number from which to build negotiations.

So, next time some anonymous blogger on the internet tells you they’ve heard Doughty’s unhappy with these two weeks of contract negotiations, that he wants to be traded and that the Kings’ brass are actually considering dealing him, do yourselves a favor and ask for some sort of citation. Because so far there hasn’t been ANY quote from Drew Doughty or Newport Sports claiming that Drew wants to make more money than Anze Kopitar – even though many fans and media seem to be accepting this with very little skepticism. There’s been no quote from Dean Lombardi indicating that there’s a gap too large to be bridged in demands. All of the talk has been, well, just that – talk. There isn’t a shred of evidence to support any of those claims. What the evidence suggests, is that things look the way they should during contract negotiations with a player of Drew Doughty’s magnitude. Sorry if I just burst your panic bubble.

Drew Doughty wants to be a Los Angeles King. The Kings want that too. There’s no reason to believe Doughty won’t be signed to a new contract before Camp opens in September. Deam Lombardi has gone out and added pieces to the team to put the Kings’ in position to take a run at the Stanley Cup. Not having Doughty signed before camp isn’t part of that plan.

So for those of you out there worried sick about it – don’t panic!


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