September 15, 2011
The history between Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi and Don Meehan, restricted free-agent defenseman Drew Doughty's(notes) agent, has been rehashed a few times during their tense negotiations this summer.
But with Kings training camp about to open sans Doughty, Rich Hammond reminds us of the simmering soap opera playing out between the two sides:
Don't discount the past here. Dean Lombardi has publicly talked about the situation he faced in San Jose in 2002, when goalie Evgeni Nabokov(notes) and defenseman Brad Stuart(notes) held out. Both players eventually signed during training camp, but the well-regarded Sharks finished last in the Pacific Division and Lombardi was fired late in the season.
Lombardi has publicly said that he believes the two holdout situations contributed to him losing his job. Who represented Nabokov then? Don Meehan. Who represents Doughty now? Meehan.
Lombardi told me recently that he doesn't think Meehan is holding the ghost of 2002 over his head, but Meehan didn't achieve his high level of success in this industry by having a short memory. There's no question that, generally speaking, past situations or personality conflicts can sometimes come into play.
And now here's Lombardi, in his fifth year with the Kings, looking at another holdout situation. Jewels From The Crown analyzed the game of chicken being played by Lombardi here; he might even believe the Kings can hang tight until Doughty risks sitting out the season by failing to sign by Dec. 1 (in an extreme scenario).
The Kings started out offering Doughty a nine-year deal believed to be worth an average of $6.8 million per season -- the same average annual value as center Anze Kopitar's(notes) contract. They might have gone above that average to lock Doughty up long term, but after the concept of a nine-year deal was rebuffed they retrenched to a maximum of $6.8 million for anything shorter.
Doughty doesn't want to sign for nine years and lose several years of potentially becoming an unrestricted free agent. A deal of six to eight years is more likely to be the end product.
Six years, of course, being one more than Kopitar's signed for, avoiding the double-whammy of both players reaching free agency in the same summer.
Surly and Scribe are offering Doughty all sorts of goods and services if he signs before camp, but most fans are siding with the Kings on this one: Check out the poll on LA Kings Insider, as close to 75 percent of respondents believed the Kings had offered Doughty enough in the negotiation.