Sep 30, 2011, 3:43 AM EDT
Even though the clock was nearing midnight in the East by the time an agreement was made, there wasn’t a shortage of quotes flowing from all sides as the Kings organization reacted to Drew Doughty’s contract agreement. The 8-year deal worth a total of $56 million makes his annual salary the highest on the team—something the team repeatedly refused to discuss. But at the end of the day, the team got the longer term deal they were looking for and the player got the higher salary that he desired.
With the deal in the rearview mirror, all sides are speaking out. There’s a lot of love and happiness flowing nowadays—if all the negotiations were this amicable, why wasn’t this deal done in July?
Drew Doughty expressed that it was important to him that he joined the team for their opening games in Europe. Of course, his heart was always in L.A. and he never had any intentions of playing anywhere else:
“I definitely didn’t want to miss that. This was never in mind, even being out for this long at all, but I knew I had to be there for the start of the season. I missed the boys a lot, and missed being in L.A., and this just felt like time to get it done and I’m really happy and really excited.”
He also said there was never a question of signing anywhere else.
“I’ve been a Kings fan since I was a kid, and I was never thinking about going elsewhere,” he said. “I knew it was just a matter of time before it got done. I hope we can win many Stanley Cups in that time, and I’m going to do everything I can to help lead us to that.”
Kings’ governor Tim Leiweke continued with the theme and spoke about how Doughty is a great person and how the negotiations were just part of the business. Again, everyone loves everyone:
“Look, he’s a special kid and he’s a good kid. These things are never easy, and sometimes people take them personally, but I think he’s going to be fine. I guarantee you we’re fine. I’m happy that we got it done. I think Dean did a great job and I respect Drew and Don (Meehan). They had the right to work through this the way they worked through it. So the important thing is that we have this kid locked in for eight years. I just want to go win Cups. Drew is going to help us do that. What the fans should understand is, this kid is a warrior. I’m glad he’s on our side. I’m glad he’s here for eight years and I’m glad we got it done, because I think the world of him.”
Kings’ head coach Terry Murray also spoke to Rich Hammond from LA Kings Insider and brought some of the best perspective of the bunch. It’s business, people go through it, and you just have to hope that everyone can get back to normal after the process is over. Sometimes, that can be easier said than done—but that’s the situation the Kings and Doughty face as they make their final preparations for the upcoming season.
“That is a part of the business that I think everyone in it today understands, and realizes that this is part of the process sometimes. It’s been out there now for quite a few years and other players have gone through it. You go through it and you come out the other side and hopefully it works out for both sides and everybody can shake hands at the end of the day and can move by it and just start to play hockey again. That’s the way it is for me. I’ve been through this with other players. With Drew, I’m real happy. I’ll give him a big hug and say, `Let’s get back to playing the game that you love to play.”’
Getting back to the game must be music to everyone’s ears. With all of the contract talk out of the way, the Kings players, management, and fans can now look forward to their season that is filled with potential. With Doughty in the mix, the Kings have arguably their best lineup in the last two decades. Some would tell you it could be the best team in the 44-year history of the organization. Leiweke explained that the Kings’ organization is spending the money to allow the team to compete this season—and in the future.
“We are sending a very strong message to our fans. We’re committed to winning, and we just proved it again.”
“When you look at the commitments that we made this summer, when you add this to Mike Richards and his long-term deal, and Jack Johnson and the commitment we tied up there, and then going out and adding Simon Gagne, we spent more money this summer than in the history of this franchise. We always said, if we get close, we will come with our guns blazing, and we just blazed. I’m glad it’s done. I want our fans to understand that now, this is all about creating an environment to win the Cup, and that’s what Drew is going to help us do. We don’t look back. We only look forward now, and eight years is a good forward.”
With everyone sharing their feelings, it almost feels like a high-priced group therapy session. Now, the talking ends and the work begins. Is Drew Doughty going to be the missing piece to the team that has bonded in training camp to help the Kings get out of the first round (and beyond)?
We’ll all find out soon enough. But as of tonight, optimism is at an all-time high.
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