September 11, 2011
The Los Angeles Kings held their annual Hockey Fest this weekend, and the party went on without Drew Doughty(notes), still unsigned as a restricted free agent. But the Kings and their fans are more concerned with Doughty's whereabouts this Friday when the team reports for training camp.
GM Dean Lombardi said that he "hoped" Doughty would report for physicals on Friday, having held discussions three times with Doughty's agent Don Meehan last week. According to Rich Hammond, Lombardi will take that information to Kings ownership:
Lombardi indicated that he would talk to team ownership and formulate a negotiation plan for the final days before the start of camp. Lombardi said that any issues involving a no-trade clause haven't even been discussed with Doughty's agent.
"I intend to talk to ownership today and update Tim (Leiweke)," Lombardi said. "Anything we do, I have to have their approval or have them be on board. It's fair to say that in the next 24 hours I'll be talking to Tim and he will be talking to Mr. Anschutz. There has to be some finality in our approach."
As for reports that Camp Doughty had recently rejected a contract offer, Helene Elliott of the LA Times writes:
A Twitter report last week by Nick Kypreos, an on-air personality with Canada's Sportsnet, said Doughty had rejected a nine-year, $61.2-million offer. However, that offer is believed to have been made very early in negotiations and that Doughty's side does not want a deal of that length and moved on to consider shorter proposals.
Elliott also reports that the talks "have not reached the point of discussing no-trade or no-move clauses."
"From the players' perspective, he's a big part of our team. From a personal level, you miss him being around. Whether you're making fun of him or he's making fun of you, it's that camaraderie.
"The contract issue, players don't really worry about that. It's more about getting him here around the guys, and being a part of a group, that we're worried about. I have confidence that they'll figure it out. He's not going to not play for us. At least that's what I think. When it comes to contracts and players, you just kind of stay out of it. It's none of my business. I just look at it from the team standpoint. We want to get him here as soon as possible. They will get it done. … He's our teammate and he will be here when he can be here."
You don't have to read too deep in between the lines to see a team captain with little patience for a protracted contract squabble.
At the core of this impasse is term: If Doughty and Meehan want five years and unrestricted free agency at 26 years old, it's hard to imagine Lombardi giving it to them — especially with the potential for Doughty and Kopitar both going UFA in the same summer.
Sounds like the next step in this process will be decided by Kings ownership, and then by Doughty.