On Saturday, it was Steve Simmons giving us his unpleasant two cents on Dean Lombardi. Now, it’s Ryan Lambert’s turn. Lambert, a writer for Yahoo! Sports, had a message to the other 29 general managers: “don’t do what Dean Lombardi is doing.”
Am I the only one who has no issue with what Lombardi is doing? I’m the first to admit that having Doughty re-signed and with the Kings would be great. I also admit that Doughty has established himself as a great defenseman in this league, especially impressive considering he’s only 21. But this is where it ends with me. I don’t care if Doughty’s the second coming to Bobby Orr, he’s learning just how a player in these circumstances is going to be treated. If Drew Doughty or his agent doesn’t like it, then too bad.
Forgive me if I sound at all redundant but what more is there to say? Dean Lombardi is a well-educated businessman who knows what he’s doing in this type of situation. While the GM of San Jose back in 2001-02, he let his star goaltender Evgeni Nabokov sit out until November – and with no disrespect to defenseman but the goaltender is the more important position for any team.
Unlike Steve Simmons, I do credit Lambert for acknowledging that Doughty is not as proven a defenseman as, say, Shea Weber of Nashville or Zdeno Chara of Boston so to ask for as much money as he is is a tad premature.
Lambert suggested that Lombardi’s thinking that by doing what he’s doing, Doughty’s going to fly to Los Angeles immediately. The way I see it, Lombardi’s showing Doughty and his agent that he’s not going to lay down for anyone, even if you are one of the best defenseman in hockey. Dean Lombardi went to law school and Drew Doughty went to driving school - does good 'ol #8 and his agent seriously think they're going to win this battle?
So, why is such a smart general manager like Lombardi being lambasted by these two writers who would complain about not following the Kings because Heaven forbid they’d stay up so far past their bedtime but when there’s some sort of drama going on, they’re the first to jump all over their backs telling them what they should and shouldn’t be doing?
Simmons and Lambert have both implied that without Doughty, the Kings don’t stand a chance this year. I don’t have any clear proof supporting this but I’m going to go ahead to assume that because Doughty hails from nearby London and played his junior in nearby Guelph, there’s some sort of local bias or, perhaps, more generally, a Canadian bias. Whether that is the case or not, I’ll touch on that issue later.
As for now, nothing’s wrong in Los Angeles – and why should there be? Despite Doughty’s absence, competition is higher at Kings’ training camp then it’s been in a long time. Doughty doesn’t want to play? Then don’t let him play. He’s not under contract so the Kings aren’t losing any money. As for the spot on the blueline that will be vacant due to said absence, that can be filled by Jake Muzzin, Thomas Hickey, Vyacheslav Voynov or even a dark horse like Nicolas Deslauriers.
Drew Doughty could be a defensive prodigy, a franchise player, hell, he could be to hockey what Nero was to the Roman Empire, it’s irrelevant. Doughty needs to learn the hard way that playing in the National Hockey League is a privilege and not a right. Personally, I hope Drew Doughty will buy himself a fiddle because he’s going to want to play it when the Kings catch fire this coming season.